SWITZERLAND – Global public health leader Dr. Sania Nishtar has been hired as the new Chief Executive Officer of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, with effect from 18 March 2024.

As the incoming Chief Executive Officer of Gavi, Dr. Sania Nishtar replaces David Marlow, who is providing effective leadership as Gavi’s CEO ad interim.

David Marlow has shown an unfailing commitment to keep Gavi moving forward by leading important structural and cultural reforms to ensure Gavi is well-placed to meet its current and future goals.

In a press release, David Marlow, Gavi’s CEO ad interim, said: “Together with the Gavi team, I am looking forward to working closely with Dr. Nishtar and our Alliance partners as we strive to meet our ambitious goals.”

David Marlow thanked the Gavi Board for attracting and securing Dr. Sania Nishtar as the new CEO and extended his gratitude for the privilege of leading Gavi alongside the senior leadership team during the interim.

The announcement of Dr. Nishtar’s appointment coincides with Gavi’s fifth five-year strategic plan, which will expire at the end of 2025.

Dr. Nishtar is expected to prioritize fundraising, with plans already in place for a high-level event to launch Gavi’s investment opportunity, to be co-hosted by France and Africa CDC in June.

In her address, Dr. Nishtar said: “I look forward to working with Gavi’s talented staff and skilled Alliance partners to ensure Gavi reaches hundreds of millions of children in lower-income countries with life-saving vaccines against deadly and debilitating diseases.”

It is worth mentioning that Gavi brings together developing countries and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other private sector partners.

As the incoming CEO of Gavi, Dr. Nishta brings a track record of accomplishments to the new endeavor.

She chaired Gavi’s Evaluation Advisory Committee from 2011 to 2014 and was an independent member of the Gavi Board in 2016.

Dr. Nishtar has also fulfilled several leadership positions in civil society and international organizations. Moreover, she founded the non-profit non-governmental organization (NGO) think-tank Heartfile, which campaigns for health reform in Pakistan.

On top of this, Dr. Nishtar was the inaugural Chair of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General’s Independent Accountability Panel (IAP) for women’s and children’s health.

She was also the Co-Chair of the World Health Organization (WHO) Independent High-level Commission on Noncommunicable Diseases.

In addition to joining GAVI as the new CEO, Dr. Nishtar currently serves as a Senator in her home country of Pakistan.

On top of this, Dr. Nishtar was the inaugural Chair of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General’s Independent Accountability Panel (IAP) for women’s and children’s health.

She was also the Co-Chair of the World Health Organization (WHO) Independent High-level Commission on Noncommunicable Diseases.

Taking this into account, Dr. Nishtar will come in with her expertise on how to support the rollout of Gavi’s new strategic plan, which is focused on protecting the next generation, above all the zero-dose children who have not received even a single vaccine shot.

On Gavi’s future strategy, Dr. Nishtar reflected: “The task ahead is enormous. From health impacts of climate change to the need to tackle vaccine inequity, prepare for future outbreaks, and boost routine immunization, which I believe is the gateway to achieving Universal Health Coverage.”

With over 30 years of experience in global public health, Dr. Nishtar has held several key leadership positions at the Federal Government of Pakistan.

She was selected for the role of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, a role with the status of a Federal Minister.

Additionally, she served as a Federal Minister with responsibility for re-establishing the country’s Ministry of Health among other roles, winning acclaim for transparency and accountability during her time in office.

In addition to leadership-related responsibilities, Dr. Nishta is a prolific thought leader who has not only co-authored dozens of academic papers and books but also been published in many leading national and international newspapers.

Commenting on her leadership at the national and global levels, Professor José Manuel Barroso, Chair of the Gavi Board, said: “Dr. Nishtar has built a reputation as a tireless advocate for health equity, an innovative thinker and a proven doer when it comes to solving complex challenges.”

Professor José Manuel Barroso lauded her accomplishments and expressed his excitement about the prospects her appointment presents for Gavi and its goals of safeguarding future generations.

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