Departing Chair Mary Robinson leaves lasting legacy in improved equity in health for millions of children in the world's poorest countries
Dagfinn Høybråten, GAVI Chair-elect, during a visit to the Rwesero Health Clinic, Gicumbi District, Northern Province, Rwanda. GAVI\2010\Gangale.
Kigali, 30 November 2010 - Former Norwegian Minister of Health and current member of parliament Dagfinn Høybråten was unanimously elected by the GAVI Alliance Board as its new Chair, GAVI announced on the first day of its board meeting taking place in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.
Mr Høybråten will take over responsibility from Mary Robinson, the international human rights advocate who will complete her tenure as Board Chair at the end of December.
Mr Høybråten, who is also leader of Norway's Christian Democratic Party, has been a member of the GAVI Board since 2006. He succeeded Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. Through his active involvement in the Board, Mr Høybråten is very familiar with GAVI's mission and the important role the Alliance plays in saving lives and improving health for millions of people in low-income countries.
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.
Dagfinn Høybråten, GAVI Chair-elect
The first woman to be 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.1
"I am delighted 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 Mary Robinson.
New five-year strategy
Mr Høybråten will take over the GAVI Board Chair as the Alliance is about to commence a new five-year strategy focused on introducing life-saving vaccines against pneumonia and diarrhoea, the two biggest killers of children under five, as well as new vaccines against cervical cancer and meningococcal A, among others.
"GAVI has the best investment case in development assistance," said Mr Høybråten. "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."
To fund its strategy, GAVI needs approximately US$ 3.7 billion over the five-year period. A pledging conference will be held in June 2011 for donors to make financial commitments.
"The vision that we have set out for ourselves is in great part thanks to Mary's tireless drive to ensure that all children achieve their right to health," Mr Høybråten said. "The GAVI board, its partners and donors must carry that mission forward and ensure that life saving vaccines continue to reach the children who need them most."
Under Mary 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. Although leaving her Board position, Mary Robinson 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.
"Mary has contributed her energy, insight, and vision to bringing about a world where all children have the prospect of living a healthy life," said Helen Evans, GAVI's interim CEO. "With this firm foundation in place and under Dagfinn Høybråten's leadership, the GAVI Board is in a strong position to ensure we reach our goals."
1. Source: WHO Department of Immunisation, Vaccines and Biologicals' estimates and projections, November 2010.