GAVI Alliance Board appoints new Vice-Chair

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GAVI Alliance appoints Dr Jaime Sepulveda as new Vice-Chair

HANOI, Vietnam, 17 November 2009 - The GAVI Alliance Board today appointed Dr Jaime Sepulveda, Director of the Integrated Health Solutions Development programme at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as its new Vice-Chair.

Dr. Jaime Sepulveda will replace Dennis Aitken of the World Health Organization who has retired. Daisy Mafubelu, Assistant Director-General for Family and Community Health, will become WHO's representative on the board. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be represented by its alternate member.

The GAVI Alliance was started with two donations of US$ 750 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 and 10 years later it remains actively engaged to help deliver GAVI's mission.

Mary Robinson, GAVI Executive Board Chair

Announcing the changes at the GAVI board meeting in Hanoi, Board Chair Mary Robinson said the appointment reflects the public-private essence of the alliance and recognises the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's long-standing and ongoing support.

"The GAVI Alliance was started with two donations of US$ 750 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 and 10 years later it remains actively engaged to help deliver GAVI's mission," Mrs Robinson said.

"Jaime has been a board member since 2007 and we are delighted that he has accepted the role of Vice-Chair. His vast experience of global health and vaccine-preventable diseases is of enormous value to the GAVI board as we tackle the challenge of meeting the rising demand for new and underused vaccines," she said.

Thanking Denis Aitken for his commitment and hard work, Mrs Robinson said he had been a dedicated Vice-Chair, not only representing the World Health Organization but also seeking the best solutions for the alliance as a whole.

"Denis has been a loyal friend and supporter of GAVI since the beginning. He is a tireless advocate for children's health. The commitment he demonstrated personally and the support offered by WHO was greatly appreciated by me as Chair and by the entire board. The active involvement of the multilaterals such as WHO has been one of the key components of GAVI's success to date," she said.

Dr Sepulveda served for more than 20 years in a variety of senior health posts in the Mexican government. From 2003 to 2006, he was director of the National Institutes of Health of Mexico. He also served as Director-General of Mexico's National Institute of Public Health and dean of the National School of Public Health. In addition to his research credentials, Sepulveda is an experienced implementer of effective health programmes.

As Mexico's Director-General of epidemiology and later Vice-Minister of Health, Sepulveda designed Mexico's Universal Vaccination Programme, which eliminated polio, measles, and diphtheria by more than doubling childhood immunisation coverage in two years. He also designed a national health surveillance system and founded Mexico's National AIDS Council.

Dr Sepulveda holds a medical degree from National Autonomous University of Mexico and three advanced degrees from the Harvard School of Public Health. He was a recent member of the Board of Overseers of Harvard University and is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

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