The World Health Organisation (WHO) has congratulated Nigeria’s former minister of finance, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on her recent appointment as chair-elect of the Board of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI).
She will take up the position of chair from January 2016.
A statement by WHO director-general, Dr Margaret Chan, said, “Okonjo-Iweala brings more than 33 years of development and financial expertise to the GAVI Board at a critical period for immunisation in developing countries.”
Earlier this year, WHO warned that vaccines are not being delivered equitably or reliably and that only 1 out of the 6 key vaccination targets for 2015 is currently on track – the introduction of under-utilised vaccines, a target to which GAVI has contributed significantly.
The WHO said that in taking up the position, Okonjo-Iweala will succeed Dagfinn Høybråten, a former Norwegian minister of health and current secretary general of the Nordic Council of Ministers. She will also work closely with Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO assistant director-general for Family, Women and Children’s Health, who is vice chair of GAVI.
Since 2000, GAVI has supported the immunisation of more than half a billion additional children, leading to 7 million future deaths being averted.
WHO is one of the founding members of GAVI, a public-private partnership formed in 2000, to address global inequities in access to and coverage of available lifesaving vaccines.
“Over the next 5 years, WHO will continue to lead collective efforts to achieve and sustain universal vaccination coverage as outlined in the Decade of Vaccines Global Vaccine Action Plan,’’ the statement added.