Indian-origin health expert appointed CEO of The WHO Foundation


World Health Organization (WHO), recently announced an Indian-origin health-expert as the CEO for its newly launched The WHO Foundation. This unit is specially created to address the most pressing health challenges across the world.

Anil Soni, the health expert, joins the Foundation from Viatris, a global healthcare company, where he served as Head of Global Infectious Diseases.

On Monday, the Foundation said in its press statement that his role will be to accelerate the its “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.

The WHO Foundation, an independent grant-making agency headquartered in Geneva, was launched in May 2020 to work alongside the World Health Organization (WHO) and the global health community to address the world’s most pressing global health challenges.

The Foundation said 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 USD 238 million in corporate and individual pledges for its and partners’ Covid-19 response efforts.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus the Director-General of WHO described Soni as an 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 centers,” said Ghebreyesus.

“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,” he said.

He also added that The WHO Foundation represents a unique new opportunity for everyone in the world to play their part in tackling these challenges and in promoting global health, through a strong and vibrant WHO.

Professor Thomas Zeltner, the founder and Chairman of the Board of the WHO Foundation said Soni is a “dynamic leader” with deep experience across all aspects of global public health.

“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 (to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria), he has demonstrated his ability to work across public, private, and nonprofit sectors and build successful new organizations from the ground up,” Zeltner said.

Soni has the experience of working with other global foundations like Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the MDG Health Alliance, which gives him a strong track record of mobilizing resources and advocating for global health priorities.

Soni was closely involved in the early years of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, serving as the Advisor to the Executive Director from 2002-2004 and then as the Founding Executive Director of Friends of the Global Fight from 2004-2005.

He served as the CEO of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, where he worked from 2005-2010, and oversaw the rapid expansion of the organization.