Statement from Dr Ayoade Alakija, FIND Chair

I am honoured to be joining this illustrious and diverse group of multidisciplinary leaders working tirelessly to ensure equitable access to primary healthcare, a key element of which is effective diagnostics. It is a privilege to build upon the great work of the outgoing Chair, Mark Kessel, a leader in the field of diagnostics development who has spent a long career making the health and economic case for robust diagnostics in the multi-pronged fight against neglected diseases.

The focus on primary healthcare — the most cost-effective way to achieve universal health coverage and healthy communities — is an important strategy in strengthening health systems that understand, empower and are close to the communities they serve. In this regard, diagnostics are the keystone of preventative healthcare, primary healthcare and universal health coverage. We cannot treat what we do not know and in the fight against disease outbreaks, pathogen mutations and variation, and antimicrobial resistance, accessible and efficient diagnostics is key.

The women and girls agenda is core to healthy families, communities and economies, as well as justice and inclusion in systems that work for all. At a time when progress on gender equality is threatened and we are even seeing reversal in many parts of the world, this agenda cannot be more crucial in bridging the widening gap in women’s healthcare.

My work in general leans heavily on equity in tackling global health challenges and on the importance of centring the needs, perspectives, and expertise of the most vulnerable among us in solving the most pressing health needs of our time. This overlaps quite neatly with the mission of FIND and I look forward to bringing my insights, experience to bear on this work. 

I am delighted that as FIND seeks equitable access to diagnostic tools, they also understand the need for global health institutions to have broad regional representation especially from the Global South, gender parity and robust involvement of civil society.

I am on a personal note particularly happy to be joining the FIND family, who have through this pandemic demonstrated kindness, empathy, and humility. It is my privilege to be joined on the board by new members Soumya Swaminathan and Malebona Precious Matsoso whose experience and ideas will be invaluable for this collective work.

I look forward to supporting the cross-cutting work of FIND from primary healthcare and diagnostics systems strengthening to business intelligence as we move resolutely toward universal health coverage and truly global, global health security.

Dr Ayoade Alakija