A 44-year-old Nigerian medical doctor with extensive experience supporting countries across the globe in tackling the world’s biggest infectious diseases, Obinna Onyekwena, has been appointed Deputy Director, Infectious Disease Advocacy at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington.

In his new role, Obinna will be responsible for leading the foundation’s strategies and portfolio of investments for increasing political commitment, resourcing, and implementation of HIV, Tuberculosis, Malaria, the Neglected Tropical Diseases and The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Dr. Obinna earned his medical degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and an MSc in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the United Kingdom.

Prior to his appointment, Obinna had an outstanding 10-year career at The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria where he supported the strengthening of national responses to three of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases, HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria – and managed investments that successfully scaled up innovation in delivery of HIV services across Africa and Asia.

Announcing the news of his appointment on his social media handle on Sunday, the Nigerian medical doctor said: “Friends and colleagues, I’m thrilled to share that I will be joining the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as their new Deputy Director, Infectious Disease Advocacy, based in Seattle, Washington.

“In this new role I will be leading the advancement of the foundation’s HIV, TB, Malaria and NTD advocacy strategies in partnership with the Program Advocacy and Communications (PAC) team.

“I am grateful for the incredible experience and strong friendships from my time at The Global Fund and the confidence bestowed on me by leadership at the Gates Foundation. I believe there is no better transition to make at this time than to a family working hard together to create a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life,” Dr. Obinna wrote.

According to his resume, the award winning Dr. Obinna has a track record of outstanding work and corporate awards, leading initiatives that have resulted in evidenced-based policy and impactful interventions, including designing, resourcing, and managing catalytic investments that have delivered outsized value or return on investment on outcomes for people living with HIV.

Compelling record of leading and supervising disparate teams including direct reports, internal workgroups and external donor and technical partners, enhancing skills, supporting the timely and quality execution of tasks in addressing systemic issues, and with laser focus on delivering results.

Also Obinna is said to be grounded with deep understanding of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG3 and a subject matter expert with well established relationships in the global health technical, policy and donor space, particularly related to HIV, TB, Malaria, and Sexual and Reproductive Health.

Earlier in his career, Obinna was the Associate Director, Monitoring and Evaluation at FHI360 Nigeria’s country office where he played a major role in the advancement of national policies and scale up of Nigeria’s HIV, TB and Malaria programs and led studies to understand services and systems for Maternal and Child Health in Northern Nigeria.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is an American private foundation founded in 2000 by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda French Gates. Its total assets of nearly US $55 billion (as of year end 2021) makes the Gates Foundation the largest private philanthropy in the world.

In 2010, Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates, alongside Warren Buffet, created the giving pledge, which asks billionaires to publicly commit to give most of their wealth away to philanthropic efforts either during their lifetimes or in their wills.

In a keynote conversation in last year’s Forbes 400 summit on philanthropy, Bill Gates said that the goal of the foundation is to run for another 25 years, which is around the time he and Melinda will be around to make sure it stays on track. They plan for the foundation to spend all the money within that time frame. In that time the foundation will “try and bring infectious disease, or all of the diseases that make the world inequitable, to an end, either through eradication or getting them down to very low levels,” Gates said.

At the recently concluded replenishment conference of the Global Fund in September 2022, where over US $15 billion was raised to support national responses to HIV, TB and Malaria over the next three years, the Foundation pledged US $912 million.



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