WHO appoints Nigeria’s Ayoade Alakija as Special Envoy

The World Health Organization [WHO] has appointed Nigeria’s Ayoade Alakija as Special Envoy for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator).

She joins former Prime Minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt, in this role.

In her new role, Ms Alakija will lead the collective advocacy for the ACT-Accelerator, mobilising support and resources so it can deliver against its new Strategic Plan and Budget that was launched on October 28. She will also help ensure that the response is characterised by accountability, inclusion, and solidarity.

“Dr Alakija will also support the leaders of the ACT-Accelerator’s three product pillars (vaccines, tests, treatments) and cross cutting ‘connector’; consult widely on the work of the ACT-Accelerator; advise the Director-General, ACT-Accelerator principals and stakeholders on emerging issues; and represent the ACT-Accelerator in key national and international fora,” the WHO said in a statement.

According to WHO, Ms Alakija joins the ACT-Accelerator at a critical moment in the global COVID-19 response, where the emergence of new variants of concern and missed global coverage targets leave large swathes of the world’s population unvaccinated, untested and untreated.

“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,” Tedros Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general, said in the statement.

The global health agency noted that the need for equitable access to vaccines, testing, treatments and personal protective equipment (PPE) remains important to bringing an end to the acute phase of the pandemic.

“Dr Alakija brings a tremendous track record in advocating for equitable access to vaccines, tests and treatments, especially for Africa,” Mr Ghebreyesus said.

Ms Alakija has been a leading voice in calling for the world to respond more consciously to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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