In a significant development for global health, a Pakistani senator and renowned global health advocate, Sania Nishtar has been appointed as the new executive director of the GAVI Vaccine Alliance.
The organisation, which focuses on distributing vaccines in developing countries, announced in a statement made available to the media on Thursday that Nishtar is set to officially assume office on March 18, 2024, succeeding David Marlow, who has been leading the organisation on an interim basis since the departure of Seth Berkley in the middle of the previous year.
With 30 years of experience in public health and medicine, Nishtar has held various prominent positions in Pakistan, including former federal minister and assistant to the Prime Minister for social protection and poverty alleviation from 2018 to 2022. She has also served on the board of directors and advisory committees at GAVI.
The GAVI statement emphasised Nishtar’s extensive experience, stating that her leadership would be instrumental in advancing the organisation’s objectives, particularly in ensuring the equitable distribution of vaccines and drugs in developing countries. The organisation expressed confidence that, under Nishtar’s guidance, GAVI would continue making a positive impact on global health.
The outgoing CEO, Prof. Mohammad Pate, congratulated Nishtar on her appointment, wishing her a successful tenure. Pate also expressed appreciation for David Marlow’s service as interim CEO. He conveyed Nigeria’s anticipation of collaborating with Nishtar, Jose Barroso and the board, along with all Alliance’s partners, to deliver vaccines and advance healthcare in the country. Pate outlined key areas of focus, including expanding routine immunisation, reducing zero doses, accelerating the introduction of new vaccines and strengthening primary health care in Nigeria.
GAVI Vaccine Alliance, established 23 years ago, boasts a board that includes organisations like the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank, various technical-scientific agencies, governments and philanthropic organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, GAVI played a crucial role in the development of the COVAX programme, distributing 2 billion doses to prevent an estimated 2.7 million deaths worldwide.