An Indian origin health expert Anil Soni has been appointed by the WHO Foundation as its inaugural Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Anil Soni will assume his charge from January 1.
Notably, the Foundation, an independent grant-making agency headquartered in Geneva, was launched in May 2020 to work alongside the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the global health community to address the world’s most pressing global health challenges.
Soni joins the Foundation from Viatris, a global healthcare company, where he has served as head of global infectious diseases.
As CEO, 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, a statement from the Foundation said.
Professor Thomas Zeltner, the founder and chairman of the board of WHO Foundation, said, “Anil is a dynamic leader with deep experience across all aspects of global public health. From his work at Viatris where he has led the development and introduction of medicines to treat HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, to his leadership of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, and his time at the Global Fund, he has demonstrated his ability to work across public, private, and nonprofit sectors and build successful new organisations from the ground up.”
WHO Director General praises Anil Soni
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said, “Anil is 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.”
Anil Soni, the proposed CEO of the WHO Foundation, said, “We are 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.”
Soni added: “The WHO Foundation represents a unique new opportunity for everyone in the world to play their part in tackling these challenges and in promoting global health, through a strong and vibrant WHO. I’m thrilled to be joining the Foundation at such a critical moment and look forward to working with the board to realise the Foundation’s mission.”
Who is Anil Soni?
A seasoned global health expert, Soni brings 20 years of experience working across public, private, and nonprofit sectors to expand healthcare access in low and middle-income countries.
While at Viatris, he has been instrumental in shortening the amount of time needed to make low-cost medicines available in high-burden settings. This was most recently reflected by the approval of an HIV medicine recommended by the WHO for infants born with HIV, at a 75% reduction in cost to the current treatment. Such success reflects Soni’s experience building some of the most innovative and impactful organizations in global health over the last decade, notably the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Clinton Health Access Initiative.
In addition to advisory roles with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the MDG Health Alliance, Soni joins the WHO Foundation with a strong track record of mobilising resources and advocating for global health priorities, as demonstrated through his leadership of the Friends of the Global Fight in the United States.
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