Vaccine Alliance Gavi Appoints Former Nigerian Health Minister as New CEO
Dr Muhammad Ali Pate, incoming Gavi CEO

The global vaccine alliance, Gavi, has appointed former Nigerian health minister, Dr Muhammad Ali Pate, as its new CEO.

Pate was Minister of State for Health in Nigeria between 2011 and 2013, where he led a national campaign to “revive routine immunisation and primary health care, chaired a presidential taskforce to eradicate polio and introduced new vaccines into the country”, according to Gavi.

“It will be my privilege to lead Gavi 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,” said Pate in a media release on Monday.

He will join Gavi in August, replacing Dr Seth Berkley who has led the alliance for the past 12 years.

Pate is a medical doctor trained in both internal medicine and infectious diseases who also has an MBA from Duke University in US.

Between 2019 and 2021, he was the World Bank’s Global Director for Health, Nutrition and Population and headed the Global Financing Facility at the World Bank where he led the Bank’s $ 18 billion COVID-19 global health response.

He 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.

Gavi undertook a year-long search for Berley’s replacement which was led by its board chair, Professor José  Manuel Barroso.

“Dr 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,” said Barroso.

Meanwhile, Berkley described “leading Gavi and helping the alliance to continually surpass itself in terms of saving lives, protecting children and supporting countries during global health emergencies” as “the greatest honour of my career”. 

“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,” added Berkley.

Berkley has led Gavi since 2011, and during his tenure the alliance estimates that it has averted 11.8 million future deaths (compared to 4.5 million between 2000 and 2010); and has helped immunise more than 676 million children – more than double the 305 million children reached between 2000 and 2010.

During his tenure, the alliance has added a number of new vaccines to its portfolio, including to prevent HPV, polio, cholera and malaria, and in its current strategy cycle is focusing on reaching zero-dose children across marginalised communities. 

“The economic result of Gavi’s expansion of activities during [Berkley’s] tenure has been profound, unlocking over $160 billion of economic benefits compared to $24 billion in its first 10 years.”


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