José Manuel Barroso has been appointed president of the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), an organization that is currently of great importance due to the pandemic caused by covid-19.
The appointment of the former Portuguese Prime Minister and former President of the European Commission was unanimously approved by GAVI’s Board of Directors at a meeting in Geneva, according to a statement from the organization.
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José Manuel Barroso will take office as chairman of the board of GAVI in January 2021, replacing former Nigerian economist and finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, whose term ends in December this year. The position is unpaid.
Currently, José Manuel Barroso is Chairman and Non-Executive Director of Goldman Sachs International, based in London.
Among the decisive factors for the choice of José Manuel Barroso, the Council’s Research Committee highlighted his “remarkable status and experience, his history as a leader, his vast experience in the presidency of institutions with multiple stakeholders and its commitment to international cooperation. “.
In statements cited in the GAVI press release, José Manuel Barroso said that at the time of the worst pandemic of the last century, “the world now needs GAVI more than ever, both to ensure that covid-19 vaccines reach all countries, rich and poor, as well as to continue its core mission of protecting hundreds of millions of people from preventable diseases ”.
Reactions to the appointment
Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa reacted on Tuesday afternoon with a message posted on the social network Twitter, in which he congratulated Durão Barroso on the appointment “at a time when the organization, supported by Portugal, will be called upon to play an important role in facilitating equitable and accessible access to vaccines against covid-19 ”.
The President of the European Commission also took to Twitter to welcome Barroso’s appointment. Ursula von der Leyen sees GAVI as a crucial partner in the global response to the covid-19 pandemic and says she hopes “to work together to ensure access to safe and effective vaccines for everyone who needs them, everywhere in the world. “.
In turn, the Executive Director of GAVI, Seth Berkley, welcomes, in a statement, the experience of Durão Barroso, “the commitment and practical approach to international cooperation”, qualities which, he said. , “Will be extremely useful as GAVI embarks on its next strategic period to improve vaccine equity and leaving no one behind, as well as meet new challenges as a partner in the global response to covid-19 “.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala also greeted his successor: “I know, however, that I am leaving my post in good hands. José is an excellent choice, with a history of advocating for gender development, equity and diversity, and I have no doubts that he is the right person to lead GAVI in its next chapter.
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GAVI is a public-private partnership that helps immunize half of the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Since its inception in 2000, GAVI has helped immunize more than 760 million children, preventing more than 13 million deaths and halving child mortality in 73 developing countries.
The organization brings together governments of developing countries and donor countries, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Foundation Gates and other private sector partners.
In recent years, under the leadership of the Nigerian, GAVI has successfully tackled the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and has also contributed to the fight against polio in Africa.
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At the World Vaccine Summit in June, he managed to secure the historic $ 8.8 billion in funding.
Also according to the statement, more recently, GAVI played a central role in the design of the COVAX facility, which aims to ensure global and equitable access to covid-19 vaccines, once they become available.
The selection process for the position began in October 2019 and was conducted by an Inquiry Committee chaired by former Vice-President of the Council Bill Roedy. Before making the final decision, the Commission involved 115 candidates from a wide range of backgrounds and backgrounds.