Dr. Ayoade Alakija, a Nigerian, has been named as the World Health Organization’s Special Envoy for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator.
Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, announced the appointment in a statement on Thursday.
Alakija will work alongside Carl Bildt, the current Special Envoy for ACT-A at the World Health Organization.
Alakija will help lead the ACT-collective Accelerator’s advocacy, mobilizing support and resources so it can deliver on its new Strategic Plan and Budget, which was launched on October 28, 2021, and ensuring that the response is marked by accountability, inclusion, and solidarity, according to the statement.
Ghebreyesus also stated that she will support the leaders of the ACT-three Accelerator’s product pillars, which include vaccines, tests, treatments, and a cross-cutting ‘connector,’ as well as consult widely on the ACT-work, Accelerator’s advise the Director-General, ACT-Accelerator principals, and stakeholders on emerging issues, and represent the ACT-Accelerator in key national and international fora.
“Dr Alakija brings a tremendous track record in advocating for equitable access to vaccines, tests and treatments, especially for Africa,” said the WHO DG. “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.”
Alakija, a medical practitioner with a Master’s degree in Public Health and Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, was previously Nigeria’s Chief Humanitarian Coordinator. She worked closely with WHO and UNICEF to design, coordinate, and implement National Health and Behavioural Surveys throughout the Pacific region while based in Fiji.
On November 1, 2021, WHO appointed Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the then-Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, as WHO’s Assistant Director General of Health Emergency Intelligence.