KIGALI - The GAVI Alliance Board, yesterday, unanimously elected Dagfinn Høybråten as its new chairperson during the first day of its board meeting taking place in Kigali.
Dagfinn Høybråten is a former Norwegian Minister of Health and current Member of Parliament. He replaces Mary Robinson, former Irish leader.
Robinson, an international human rights advocate, will complete her tenure at the end of December.
GAVI Alliance is a Geneva-based public-private partnership aimed at improving health in the world’s poorest countries.
The Alliance brings together developing countries and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, research and technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private philanthropists.
Høybråten, who is also leader of Norway’s Christian Democratic Party, has been a member of the GAVI Alliance Board since 2006. He succeeded Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg as an independent GAVI Board member in 2009.
Through his active involvement in the Board, Høybråten is very familiar with GAVI’s mission and the important role the body plays in saving lives and improving health for millions of people in low-income countries.
“GAVI has the best investment case in development assistance,” said Høybråten in a press statement that The New Times has seen.
“The Alliance has delivered clear results and donors recognise its high value for money. We now have before us an extraordinary opportunity to launch new vaccines to save many more lives and improve the health of millions of children,” he noted.
The first female President of Ireland, Mary Robinson has been the GAVI Board Chair for two years but has been engaged in the Alliance since 2001 when Nelson Mandela personally invited her to join. Over the past decade, GAVI has immunised approximately 288 million children and saved more than five million young lives.
“I am delightful to be handing over the chairing of the GAVI Alliance Board to Dagfinn and I am confident that under his strong leadership, GAVI will rise to the challenge of saving more lives and extending the right to health to millions more children,” said Robinson.
Høybråten takes over at a time the Alliance is about to embark on a new five-year strategy focused on introducing life-saving vaccines against pneumonia and diarrhoea, the two biggest killers of children under five.
Under Robinson’s leadership, the GAVI Board addressed discrimination in access to health by approving and overseeing the implementation of a new gender policy.
She also led the Board to approve an accelerated plan to introduce new vaccines that would increase equity for children and women.
Despite leaving her Board position, she intends to remain engaged with the Alliance’s work by launching an Eminent Group of individuals who will advocate for the importance of vaccines.
The group will begin work in 2011.