The World Health Organization Foundation has appointed an Indian-origin health expert, Anil Soni, as its first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to address the most vital health challenges all across the globe. The Foundation is an independent grant-making agency based out of Geneva in Switzerland and was launched in May 2020 to work alongside the WHO and the global health community.

Soni will assume his role as CEO on January 1 next year. In his new role, Soni will accelerate the Foundation’s “work to invest in innovative, evidence-based initiatives that support WHO in delivering on its mission to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all,” the WHO Foundation said in a release on Monday (December 7).

In his previous role, Soni served as the Head of Global Infectious Diseases at Viatris, a global healthcare company. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described Soni as a ‘proven innovator’ in global health who has spent two decades in service of communities affected by HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.

“He earned my trust when he and his team at the Clinton Health Access Initiative worked side-by-side with the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia to expand access to treatment and strengthen the management of our health centers,”  Ghebreyesus was quoted as saying by a news agency.

On his appointment, Soni said the world is at a ‘critical juncture’ for global public health.

“After months of combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, there is hope for several successful vaccine candidates. Beyond this crucial step, the path to recovery necessitates expanded investment in the many health priorities that have been compromised in recent months – from drops in vaccine coverage and HIV treatment to delays in cancer treatment,” he said

Here are some of Soni’s other major achievements…

* He was closely involved in the early years of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, serving as the advisor to the Executive Director from 2002-2004 and then as the Founding Executive Director of Friends of the Global Fight from 2004-2005.

* Served as the CEO of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, where he worked from 2005-2010, and oversaw the rapid expansion of the organisation.

* Senior advisor to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the MDG Health Alliance. He is an alumnus of McKinsey and Harvard College and serves on the board of The Marshall Project.

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