Opening Session | Envisioning the future of policing and public health: The Marketplace of Ideas

Worldwide, there is an urgent need for new approaches to long-standing societal problems such as drug use, mental illness, homelessness, gun violence, sexual violence, and many more. We increasingly recognise that our usual ways of addressing these problems – over-reliance on punishment, coercion and incarceration – have not worked or have systematically made things worse. Sectors intended to uphold life, safety and wellbeing – law enforcement and public health – operate in silos or even in competition, when they clearly address the same problems with the same root causes.

In response to this historic moment and need, the Global Law Enforcement and Public Health Association (GLEPHA) is documenting efforts to develop alternative approaches to community safety and health needs, by operationalizing a public health-based response, and working in partnerships with law enforcement. The GLEPHA project focuses on programs across a wide range of issues and from countries all round the world. In this series of events, we begin to showcase some of these urgently needed innovative approaches, and to look at lessons learned and future directions.

Session duration: 90 minutes


Fariba Soltani

Fariba Soltani is Chief of the HIV/AIDS Section and Global Coordinator for HIV/AIDS at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).


Marina Mahathir

Marina Mahathir is a writer, women’s rights and HIV/AIDS activist. She served as the President of the Malaysian AIDS Council for 12 years from 1993-2005 and was a member of numerous international and regional committees on HIV/AIDS.

In 2010, Marina was named the UN Person of the Year by the United Nations in Malaysia. On the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day in 2011, Marina was one of only two Malaysian women named to’s list of 100 Most Inspiring People Delivering for Girls and Women. In 2016, Marina received France’s highest award, the Chevalier de la Legion D’Honneur in recognition of her work in HIV and women’s rights.

She is a regular writer who has been sharing her musings in The Star newspaper for more than 20 years; her think pieces have been compiled into three books, In Liberal Doses, Telling It Straight and Dancing on Thin Ice. In 2021, the release of her latest book, The Apple and the Tree, reveals more about her experiences as the daughter of the former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad.


Prof. Monique Michal Marks

Prof. Marks is a research professor who heads up a research centre at the Durban University of Technology. She also co-directs the Bellhaven Harm Reduction Centre which provides low-threshold harm reduction services to roughly 200 homeless and how income people daily. While Prof. Marks has worked in the general field of policing and security governance for over twenty years, in recent years she has focused on the interface between public health and public safety, specifically around drug use and harm reduction. She has authored 7 books and over 60 peer reviewed articles.

Michael Wilson

Michael serves as the South Africa country director of Advance Access & Delivery, a global health non-profit organization. Michael is one of the co-founders of the Bellhaven Harm Reduction Centre, South African’s first low-threshold harm reduction centre. Since 2018, Michael has served as an acting consultant to the United Nations Office of Special (UNOPS), supporting countries to strengthen national tuberculosis and HIV programs. Michael holds an appointment as Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Behaviour at the Gillings School of Global Public Health and has over a decade of experience designing and running health programmes for people who use drugs and homeless individuals in the United States and South Africa.