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WHO appoints Indian-origin health expert Anil Soni as first CEO

Pritam Kashyap
Pritam Kashyap

The WHO Foundation has appointed Indian-origin health expert Anil Soni as its inaugural Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective January 1, 2021.

The WHO Foundation which is an independent grant-making agency situated in Geneva, Switzerland and was initially launched in May 2020 to work alongside the World Health Organization (WHO) &the global health community to address the world’s most pressing global health challenges. 

Anil Soni joins the WHO Foundation from Viatris, a worldwide healthcare company, where he has served as Head of Global Infectious Diseases and as aCEO;he will accelerate the Foundation’s work to invest in innovative, evidence-based initiatives that support

Thomas Zeltner, Founder& Chairman of the Board of the 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.”

He further added that they are delighted to have Anil lead the Foundation at this critical moment for the future of global health.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General (DG) 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 centres,”Tedros said.

Anil Soni 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.”

He further added that 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.

About Anil Soni

  • Anil Soni is a leader in global health who has worked for more than 20 years in the public, private, and non-profit sectors to expand healthcare access in low and middle-income countries. Now from January 1 next year he will become CEO of the WHO Foundation.

  • He will join the WHO Foundation from Viatris where he has served as Head of Global Infectious Diseases, working across the pharmaceutical company to accelerate the availability of new and innovative treatments.

  • He was closely involved in the early years of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria, serving as the advisor to the Executive Director from 2002-2004 and then as the Founding Executive Director of Friends of the Global Fight from period 2004-2005.

  • He has also served as the CEO of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, where he worked from 2005-2010 and oversaw the rapid expansion of the organization.

  • Apart from this he has been a senior advisor to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the MDG Health Alliance. 

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