Hindustan Times, New Delhi


File photo of Anil Soni.(Sourced)

 
 
 
 

 

The WHO Foundation has appointed Anil Soni as its inaugural Chief Executive Officer (CEO) from January 1, 2021, and announced the launch of its global fund-raising campaign that targets $1 billion in donations for global health by 2023.

The WHO Foundation is an independent grant-making foundation based in Geneva that was launched in May 2020 as a separate legal entity to strengthen WHO’s efforts to address pressing global health issues. While protecting the WHO’s neutrality and independence as a global health agency, the foundation can become a platform for new types of public-private engagement, including investing in innovative and research-based initiatives to advance WHO’s mission and help deliver on its ambitions in an increasingly uncertain economic climate.

Soni joins the Foundation from Viatris, a global healthcare company, where he has served as Head of Global Infectious Diseases. “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,” said Soni.

Soni brings two decades 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.

As WHO Foundation CEO, he 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.

“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 non-profit sectors and build successful new organisations from the ground up. On behalf of the Board, we are delighted to have Anil lead the Foundation at this critical moment for the future of global health,” said Professor Thomas Zeltner, Founder and Chairman of the Board of the WHO Foundation.

Such success reflects Soni’s experience building some of the most innovative and impactful organisations 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.

“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,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said, in a statement.

A defining aspect of the Foundation is its ability to create new opportunities for major donors, corporate partners and members of the general public to engage with WHO. The Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO, which WHO and the UN Foundation launched earlier in 2020, together with the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, helped test the potential for broader support to WHO by raising $238 million in corporate and individual pledges for its and partners’ Covid-19 response efforts.