Ayoade Alakija takes up FIND Chair as Soumya Swaminathan and Malebona Precious Matsoso also join FIND Board of Directors

  • Ayoade (Yodi) Alakija, global health leader, humanitarian, and advocate for social justice including health for all, takes over from Mark Kessel as FIND Chair, who steps down today after 12 years
  • Soumya Swaminathan joins the FIND Board after most recently serving as WHO Chief Scientist, alongside Malebona Precious Matsoso, former Director-General of the National Department of Health in South Africa
  • These new appointments are confirmed as Board terms finish for Andrew Jack, George Gao and Sheila Tlou

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – 27 January 2023. FIND, the global alliance for diagnostics, today ratified three new appointments to its Board of Directors, including a new Chair, Dr Ayoade (Yodi) Alakija, alongside Soumya Swaminathan and Malebona Precious Matsoso as incoming new Board members.

Ayoade Alakija is a medical doctor who brings over two decades of experience from Asia, the Americas, the Pacific region, Europe and Africa to the role. She is a global health and humanitarian leader, and has been a leading voice calling for the urgent reimagining of how the globe should respond more consciously to the inequities in access to healthcare exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. She currently serves as World Health Organization (WHO) Special Envoy for the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, co-chairs the Principals Group and has worked closely with the WHO Director-General, FIND, and other ACT-Accelerator agencies throughout the pandemic. In her previous Minister-Counselor role as Chief Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, she led the integrated humanitarian response and spearheaded the Oslo Humanitarian Conference for Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, working with governments and multilateral institutions to mobilize resources for some of the most under-recognized humanitarian crises in the world. Ayoade is the Chair of the African Union’s African Vaccine Delivery Alliance/Africa Countermeasures and Readiness Platform and founder of the Emergency Coordination Centre in Nigeria which promotes the rights of women and girls in education and health. She brings her commitment to social justice and equity, her expertise in global health, development and humanitarian coordination, her networks in the Global South and her reputation as a powerful advocate and public speaker to the FIND family.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said: “I congratulate Dr Alakija on her appointment as the FIND Board Chair, which is an inspired choice. Dr Alakija is renowned globally as a leader and advocate for global health, equitable access to vaccines, tests and treatments, especially for Africa and beyond, as her leadership as Special Envoy of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator has so clearly demonstrated.”

Ayoade becomes FIND Chair today as Mark Kessel steps down after 12 years. Mark’s leadership has been instrumental in shaping FIND’s direction as our organization has grown over that time, both geographically and in scope. With the support of the Board and in close partnership with leadership, Mark guided us through the COVID-19 pandemic to help promote and enable equitable access to testing for everyone, everywhere – striving to ensure the pandemic leaves a worldwide legacy of appreciation for, and commitment to, diagnostics. His energy, focus and tireless advocacy for diagnostic testing, our organization and our staff are deeply appreciated and we thank him sincerely.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, several Board terms expired, and we are extremely grateful that Board members exceptionally renewed their commitments to ensure continuity and stability during the crisis. Andrew Jack, George Gao and Sheila Tlou have now stepped down as their extended terms conclude, and we thank them for their dedication and support.

With new 3-year terms starting in March 2023, Soumya Swaminathan and Malebona Precious Matsoso now join our Board. Soumya, a paediatrician from India and a globally recognized researcher on tuberculosis and HIV, was the first Chief Scientist of WHO. Previously she has been Secretary to the Government of India for Health Research, and Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research. She has also served as Coordinator of the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases in Geneva.

Precious Matsoso is the Director of the Health Regulatory Science Platform in the Division of Wits Health Consortium at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, and co-chair of the WHO Digital Health Technical Advisory Group. She was previously Director-General of the National Department of Health of South Africa, and also served as the head of the medicines regulatory agency in that country. At WHO, Precious has held the positions of Director of Public Health Innovation and Intellectual Property, as well as Director of Technical Cooperation for Essential Medicines and Traditional Medicines, and served as a member of the WHO Executive Board. She has been Chair of the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee (IOAC) of the WHO Emergencies Programme and continues to be a member.

Bill Rodriguez, CEO of FIND, said: “Welcoming Yodi, Precious and Soumya to the FIND Board is a true honour. The wealth of experience in global health leadership they bring will be invaluable to our organization, helping us to keep diagnostic testing high on the global agenda as we embrace an unparalleled opportunity to get testing sustainably embedded into health systems and ensure that everyone who needs a test can get one. At the same time, we are indebted to Mark, Andrew, Sheila and George for their unwavering commitment and support over the years. FIND would not be where we are today without the critical guidance of our whole Board.”

The full FIND Board of Directors now comprises:

  • Ayoade (Yodi) Alakija, Chair
  • Daniel Camus
  • Christian Frutiger
  • David Heymann
  • Shobana Kamineni
  • Ilona Kickbusch
  • Malebona Precious Matsoso
  • Carlos Morel
  • Marcel Tanner
  • Soumya Swaminathan

Further Board changes will be announced later in the year as additional terms expire.

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About FIND

FIND, the global alliance for diagnostics, seeks to ensure equitable access to reliable diagnosis around the world. We connect countries and communities, funders, decision-makers, healthcare providers and developers to spur diagnostic innovation and make testing an integral part of sustainable, resilient health systems. We are co-convener of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator diagnostics pillar, and a WHO Collaborating Centre for Laboratory Strengthening and Diagnostic Technology Evaluation. Founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2003, we have regional hubs in Kenya, India, South Africa and Viet Nam. With partners across the public and private sectors, we are working to make sure that everyone who needs a test can get one. For more information, please visit

Media contact

Sarah-Jane Loveday, Director of Communications
+41 (0) 79 431 62 44

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Read the statement from Ayoade Alakija