Gavi Board appoints Senator Dr Sania Nishtar as Chief Executive Officer

  • Today, the Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance approved the appointment of Dr Sania Nishtar as its next Chief Executive Officer
  • Dr Nishtar, currently a member of the Pakistan Senate, will assume the role on 18 March 2024
  • Dr Sania Nishtar: “I am honoured by the trust the Gavi Board placed in me and look forward to working with Gavi’s talented staff and skilled Alliance partners.” 

Geneva, 11 January 2024 – Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance announced today the appointment of Dr Sania Nishtar as its new Chief Executive Officer. Dr Nishtar, currently serving as a Senator in her home country of Pakistan, will assume the role on 18 March 2024.

A trained medical doctor, Dr Nishtar has built an outstanding career over 30 years as a global public health leader. In national government, she served between 2018 and 2022 as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, a role with the status of a Federal Minister. In 2013, during Pakistan’s Caretaker Government, she served as a Federal Minister with responsibility for re-establishing the country’s Ministry of Health among other roles, winning acclaim for transparency and accountability during her time in office.

During her career, Dr Nishtar has fulfilled several leadership positions in civil society and international organisations. She founded the non-profit NGO think tank Heartfile, which campaigns for health reform in Pakistan. She was the inaugural Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Independent Accountability Panel (IAP) for women’s and children’s health and Co-Chair of the WHO Independent High-level Commission on Noncommunicable Diseases, among many other roles. Dr Nishtar served as Chair of Gavi’s Evaluation Advisory Committee from 2011 to 2014, and in 2016 served as an independent member of Gavi’s Board. A prolific thought leader, she has co-authored dozens of academic papers and books, and has been published in many leading national and international newspapers. Dr Nishtar graduated from medical school as the best graduate in 1986. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and received a PhD from King’s College London, which awarded her an honorary Doctorate in Science, Honoris Causa, in 2019. She is listed among the notable alumni of King’s College and in 2020 was among the BBC’s 100 Women, a list of inspiring and influential women from around the world.

Professor José Manuel Barroso, Chair of the Gavi Board, said: “Over three decades of leadership at the national and global levels, Dr Nishtar has built a reputation as a tireless advocate for health equity, an innovative thinker and a proven doer when it comes to solving complex challenges. I am impressed by her accomplishments and excited by the possibilities her appointment brings for our Alliance and our ambitions to protect future generations. I also thank David Marlow for his effective leadership as Gavi’s CEO ad interim. His unfailing commitment to keep Gavi moving forward, by leading important structural and cultural reforms, has ensured Gavi is in the best possible shape to meet its current and future goals.”

Commenting on her appointment, Dr Nishtar said: “Health starts with life-saving vaccines. Over the past 23 years, Gavi has been one of the most impactful organisations in global health. The task ahead is enormous – from health impacts of climate change, to the need to tackle vaccine inequity, prepare for future outbreaks and boost routine immunisation, which I believe is the gateway to achieving Universal Health Coverage. I am honoured by the trust the Gavi Board has placed in me and look forward to working with Gavi’s talented staff and skilled Alliance partners to ensure Gavi reaches hundreds of millions of children in lower-income countries with life-saving vaccines against deadly and debilitating diseases.”

David Marlow, Gavi’s CEO ad interim, commented on Dr Nishtar’s appointment: “I have been honoured to lead Gavi with the senior leadership team during this interim period and congratulate the Board on attracting and securing Dr Sania Nishtar as our next CEO. Together with the Gavi team, I am very much looking forward to working closely with Dr Nishtar and our Alliance partners as we strive to meet our ambitious goals.”

Dr Nishtar’s appointment comes at an important time for Gavi. With its fifth five-year strategic period drawing to a close at the end of 2025, Gavi will seek Board approval during 2024 for its 2026–2030 strategy. Alongside future strategy, fundraising will be a priority for Dr Nishtar, with plans already in place for a high-level event to launch Gavi’s investment opportunity, to be co-hosted by France and Africa CDC in June.

Notes to editors

About Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate more than half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. The Vaccine Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private sector partners. View the full list of donor governments and other leading organisations that fund Gavi’s work here.

Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped to immunise a whole generation – over 1 billion children – and prevented more than 17.3 million future deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 78 lower-income countries. Gavi also plays a key role in improving global health security by supporting health systems as well as funding global stockpiles for Ebola, cholera, meningococcal and yellow fever vaccines. After two decades of progress, Gavi is now focused on protecting the next generation, above all the zero-dose children who have not received even a single vaccine shot. The Vaccine Alliance employs innovative finance and the latest technology – from drones to biometrics – to save lives, prevent outbreaks before they can spread and help countries on the road to self-sufficiency. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Courtesy The Gavi.

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