The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has described the appointment of Dr. Muhammad Pate as the chief executive director of Gavi, a Vaccine Alliance, as a validation of the country’s new image.
Ehanire made this assertion at a dinner ceremony organised by friends of Pate over the weekend in Abuja.
Recall that Pate’s appointment was confirmed on February 13, 2023, at an extraordinary meeting of the Gavi Board, in Geneva. He will assume the role on August 3, 2023, replacing Dr. Seth Berkley, who would step down after 12 years leading the alliance.
He was selected following a year-long recruitment process personally overseen by the chair of the Gavi board, Prof. José Manuel Barroso.
The minister of health said that the country is now in the good books of the world with Pate’s appointment; noting that “This is a big one for us all. Pate is the first African and Nigerian to be appointed CEO. He will do exceptionally well in his appointment”.
He called on the alliance to celebrate with Nigeria because it has “one of the best hands in the whole world” as an expert in internal medicine and infectious diseases. “Pate’s appointment,” he emphasised. “is well deserved”.
Ehanire averred that Gavi has already protected an entire generation of children and Pate would ensure the protection of the next.
He stated that Pate will also improve access to new and under-used vaccines for millions of the most vulnerable children, which would transform their lives and make the world safer for everyone.
Ehanire also urged him to advocate and support policies that would increase vaccination interventions globally as a strategy to curb diseases worldwide and most especially on the continent.
The minister said that local vaccine production is now a priority with Pate as Gavi‘s CEO and actualising this very important project.
According to the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Nigeria as a country, needs to help Pate succeed in his appointment by putting more resources into Gavi.
Oloriegbe said that the time had come for the country to strengthen its health system, especially its primary healthcare centres across the country by ensuring that every child everywhere gets vaccinated.
He called on Pate to use his office to support and make vaccination and immunisation programmes sustainable to prevent infectious diseases in the country.
Oloriegbe expressed confidence in the ability of the new Gavi CEO to excel.
Similarly, the team leader of Doctors on the Move, Dr. Joseph Kigbu said that the appointment has provided over 64 per cent of children aged between 12 and 23 months in the country the opportunity to receive all recommended vaccines.
Kigbu said that with Pate’s knowledge and experience of both national immunization programming and international emergency response and global finance, he is confident that Gavi would build on its vision and mission.
He said that confident that Pate would continue to support countries to scale up critical routine immunisation programmes, reach more vulnerable children, expand access to new vaccines, transform primary health care systems and help fight outbreaks and future pandemics.
“I’m deeply honoured to be joining Gavi as its incoming CEO and there is a lot to be thankful for. I feel incredible gratitude,” Pate said.
He assured that he would “work round the clock” not to disappoint the country; rather, to make the country proud. He noted that he would serve with a lot of courage, knowing that the country is behind him.
Science Nigeria reports that friends at the event wished Pate, a former Minister of State for Health in Nigeria, success in the new assignment and assured him of their support.
Pate was, in May 2019, appointed by the World Bank Group as the global director of health, nutrition and population (HNP) and director of the global financing facility (GFF) in Washington DC, USA.
At about the same time, he was also appointed by the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health as Julio Frenk Professor of Public Health Leadership in the department of global health and population.
He had worked with the World Bank: he joined the bank as a young professional in 2000 and worked on health issues such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in several regions, including Africa and the East Asia Pacific.
Before Pate was appointed Nigeria’s Minister of State for Health in 2011, he had successfully served as the executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).
In 2013, he resigned as the Minister of State for Health to join Duke University’s Global Health Institute, where he served as a visiting professor and taught comparative health systems to postgraduate students.