On 11 January 2024, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, announced the appointment of Dr. Sania Nishtar as its new Chief Executive Officer, replacing Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, who declined the position last year in favour of his current position as Minister of Health and Social Welfare of Nigeria.
According to a release on the Gavi website, Dr. Nishtar, a distinguished medical doctor and current Senator in Pakistan, will take over the helm on 18 March 2024. She brings with her over 30 years of experience in global public health leadership, having previously served in high-profile roles within Pakistan’s government, including as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation.
Her achievements span beyond national borders. Dr. Nishtar founded the NGO think tank Heartfile, championed health reform in Pakistan, and held prominent positions in international organisations, including the UN Secretary-General’s Independent Accountability Panel and the WHO Independent High-level Commission on Noncommunicable Diseases.
Professor José Manuel Barroso, Chair of the Gavi Board, praised Dr. Nishtar’s track record, highlighting her dedication to health equity and innovation. He expressed enthusiasm about the “possibilities her appointment brings for our Alliance and our ambitions to protect future generations.”
In her remarks, Dr Nishtar emphasised the critical role of vaccines in global health and acknowledged Gavi’s significant contributions over the past 23 years. She highlighted forthcoming challenges such as vaccine inequity, preparing for future outbreaks, and achieving Universal Health Coverage.
David Marlow, Gavi’s CEO ad interim, commended Dr Nishtar’s appointment, expressing confidence in her leadership. He acknowledged the progress made during his interim tenure and looked forward to collaborating with Dr. Nishtar and the Alliance partners to achieve Gavi’s ambitious goals.
This announcement follows a previous update in 2023 when Prof. Mohammad Pate was initially appointed as Gavi’s CEO. However, he declined the position in June 2023, leading to the current succession. Prof. Pate, a Nigerian physician and politician, continues his role as the Minister of Health and Social Welfare of Nigeria and as a professor at Harvard University.
As Gavi moves forward under Dr. Nishtar’s leadership, the Alliance is gearing up for strategic planning and fundraising initiatives, underscoring the importance of its mission to immunise children globally against deadly diseases.
Established in 2000, Gavi has been instrumental in immunising over 1 billion children worldwide and preventing millions of deaths. The Alliance collaborates with various stakeholders, including governments, international organisations, and private sector partners, to enhance global health security and combat infectious diseases.