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Dr. Ayoade Alakija

Last Thursday, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of World Health Organisation (WHO), announced the appointment of a Nigerian, Dr. Ayoade Alakija, as WHO’s Special Envoy for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator).

The new Envoy joins former Prime Minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt, in this role to help lead the collective advocacy for the ACT-Accelerator, support the leaders of the ACT-Accelerator’s three product pillars (vaccines, tests, treatments) and advise the Director-General, ACT-Accelerator principals and stakeholders on emerging issues; and represent the ACT-Accelerator in key national and international fora.

The ACT-Accelerator partnership, a coalition of leading public health organizations, is the only global initiative offering an integrated, end-to-end solution to expedite the end of the pandemic through the accelerated development and equitable distribution of vaccines, tests and treatments.

Alakija is a medical doctor with a postgraduate degree from The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in Public Health and Epidemiology. She is a global health leader and activist who deploys diplomacy to bring together the global north and south together in coordinated responses to the pandemic.

In her previous role as Chief Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, she led the Oslo Humanitarian Conference for Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, working with governments and multilateral institutions to mobilise responses to some of the most under-recognized humanitarian crises in the world.

Before then, while based in Fiji, she worked closely with the WHO and UNICEF to design, coordinate, and implement National Health and Behavioural Surveys across the Pacific region. She has specific focus in the area of women and children.


“Dr. Alakija brings a tremendous track record in advocating for equitable access to vaccines, tests and treatments, especially for Africa. She joins us at a critical juncture in the fight against COVID-19, with the Omicron variant threatening to further constrain equitable access to vaccines, just as the pace of supply was improving. We are very much looking forward to working with her to advocate for the full financing of the ACT Accelerator, and to meeting the global targets for COVID-19 vaccination, testing and treatment,” Ghebreyesus said.

The new Envoy holds a Master’s degree from The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in Public Health and Epidemiology. She has taught at various institutions of higher learning, including University of Warwick in the United Kingdom to the University of Pepperdine in the United States, Monash University in Australia, University of Melbourne, Pacific Fiji School of Medicine, and the Pacific Post Graduate training programme.


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