The World Health Organisation has appointed former Nigerian Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as a Special Envoy of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.
WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced the appointment on Friday, during the launch of the initiative, which he described as “a landmark collaboration to accelerate the development, production and equitable distribution of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics for COVID-19.”
Dr Okonjo-Iweala was appointed to the role along with British business executive and former CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, Sir Andrew Witty.
“The ACT Accelerator brings together the combined power of several organisations to work with speed and scale,” the WHO DG said.
“Each of us is doing great work, but we cannot work alone. We’re coming together to work in new ways to identify challenges and solutions together.”
More than two million people have been infected by COVID-19 and more than 190,000 of them have died globally with more than a billion people forced to stay at home as the world battles to curb the spread of the disease which was first reported in December 2019.
To combat the pandemic, the WHO DG believes “the world needs these tools, and it needs them fast.”
“Past experience has taught us that even when tools are available, they have been not been equally available to all,” he said.
“We cannot allow that to happen”.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala also confirmed the appointment on her Twitter handle in response to a congratulatory message.
“Honored and humbled to serve with Sir Andrew on this challenging and vital global endeavour,” she said.