Ex-Nigerian minister appointed CEO of top global health initiative

Nigeria’s former Minister of State for Health, Muhammad Pate, has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the vaccine alliance, GAVI.

Mr Pate will assume duties on 3 August when he will take over from Seth Berkley, who has led the alliance in the past 12 years, GAVI announced on Monday.

Mr Berkley will continue to serve as CEO until 2 August, while working with incoming CEO Pate to ensure a smooth transition.

Commenting on the appointment, the Chair of the Gavi Board, José Barroso, said: “Dr Muhammad Ali Pate stood out in a field of world-class candidates. With his knowledge and experience of both national immunization programming and international emergency response and global finance, I am confident that Gavi will continue to build on its vision and mission, as well as navigate the many challenges and opportunities we will face.”

“I’m deeply honoured to be joining Gavi as its incoming CEO. Gavi is one of the most impactful organisations in global health, a testament to the great work of the Alliance partners and Secretariat staff,” Mr Pate said in his acceptance speech.

He added that it will be his privilege to lead and build on the work of Mr Berkley, and continue to support countries to scale up critical routine immunisation programmes, reach more zero-dose children, expand access to new vaccines, transform primary health care systems, and help fight outbreaks and future pandemics.

A medical doctor trained in both internal medicine and infectious diseases, with an MBA from Duke University in the United States, Mr Pate is currently the Julio Frenk Professor of Public Health Leadership at Harvard Chan School of Public Health and has served on several health-focused boards and expert panels in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors during his career.

He served as the Global Director for Health, Nutrition and Population of the World Bank and Director of the Global Financing Facility at the World Bank between 2019 and 2021. He led the Bank’s $18 billion COVID-19 global health response and represented the Bank on various boards, including those of Gavi, the Global Fund, CEPI and UNAIDS.

As Nigeria’s Minister of State for Health between 2011 and 2013, he led a flagship initiative to revive routine vaccinations and primary health care, chaired a presidential task force to eradicate polio and introduced new vaccines into the country.

Outgoing CEO Berkley said: “Leading Gavi and helping the Alliance to continually surpass itself in terms of saving lives, protecting children and supporting countries during global health emergencies has been the greatest honour of my career. I am proud and humbled to have been part of what the Alliance has achieved, and I am confident in its future under Muhammad’s leadership: having worked with him during his time as Minister and at the World Bank, I know he understands intimately the landscape we work in and will be uncompromising in his drive for public health equity.”

About GAVI

Gavi, the vaccine alliance, is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped to immunise a whole generation – over 981 million children – and prevented more than 16.2 million future deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 73 lower-income countries.

Gavi also plays a key role in improving global health security by supporting health systems as well as funding global stockpiles for Ebola, cholera, meningococcal and yellow fever vaccines. After two decades of progress, Gavi is now focused on protecting the next generation, above all the zero-dose children who have not received even a single vaccine shot.

Gavi is a co-convener of COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, together with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. In its role, Gavi is focused on procurement and delivery for COVAX: coordinating the design, implementation and administration of the COVAX Facility and the Gavi COVAX AMC and working with its Alliance partners – UNICEF and WHO – along with governments, on country readiness and delivery.


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