Facts about Nigeria’s Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Ali Pate

By Lara Adejoro

President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday unveiled the portfolios of 45 ministers nine days after they were confirmed by the Senate in a week-long screening exercise.

The ministers will be sworn in by the President at the State House Conference, Aso Villa, Abuja on Monday.

Tinubu appointed an accomplished global health leader, Prof Ali Muhammad Pate, as the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare.

Prior to his appointment, he served on several health-focused boards in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors, and held several senior positions in Nigeria and abroad.

Below are some things to know about Ali Pate:

Pate was born on September 6, 1968, in the Misau local government area of Bauchi State. He is reported to be the first in his family to complete a secondary school education.

He is an alumnus of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in Kaduna state. According to Wikipedia, he graduated from ABU and moved to Gambia where he worked in rural hospitals for a few years.

The Nigerian politician and physician trained in internal medicine and infectious diseases, with an MBA from Duke University in the United States. Before this, he studied at the University College London. He also has a Master in Health System Management from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom.

He joined the World Bank Group as a Young Professional in 2000 and worked on health issues in several regions, including Africa and the East Asia and Pacific.

In 2008, he was appointed the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Agency until 2011, when he was appointed the Minister of State for Health.

As the ED and CEO of the NPHCDA, he initiated a policy whereby leaders in relevant areas helped encourage immunisation; cases of wild poliomyelitis decreased from 803 at the end of 2008, to just 11 in 2010.

Pate was instrumental in setting out the transformation agenda to manage outstanding issues. He also implemented pioneering policies, such as training middle management for primary health care and the collaboration between public and private sectors through partnership. He also developed the Midwives’ Service Scheme to address the national high maternal and child morbidity and mortality rate in the country.

In 2012, he was awarded Harvard Health Leader by the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Programme for his contribution to healthcare in developing countries.

He resigned from his position as the Minister of State for Health in 2013 to take up the position of Professor at Duke University’s Global Health Institute, in the United States of America.

On May 2, 2014, he received the title of the Chigarin Misau, in recognition of his achievements and public service for Nigeria. The recognition also marks the birth of the Chigari Foundation that he founded. Chigari Foundation is a non-profit organisation, whose goal is to provide world-class leadership in engaging communities in Nigeria.

In 2015, he began a term of three years as Chief Executive Officer of Big Win Philanthropy, an independent foundation investing in children and young people in developing countries, helping them improve their lives and maximise opportunities for long-term, economic growth in their particular regions.

In 2015, Pate contested for the Bauchi state governorship election under the Peoples Democratic Party but lost in the party primary with 86 votes to trail Babayo Gamawa who had 116 votes, and the eventual winner – Mohammed Jatau, who scored 368.

Jatau, however, lost the general election to the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Muhammed Abubakar.

In 2016, he also gave a course, ‘Leadership Development in Global Health: Building Community Trust Networks’ in his additional role as a Richard L. and Ronay A. Menschel Senior Leadership Fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

In May 2019, Pate was appointed the Global Director, Health, Nutrition, and Population Global Practice of the World Bank, and the Director of the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents, based in Washington DC.

While serving with the World Bank between 2019 and 2021, he led the Bank’s $18 billion COVID-19 global health response and represented the Bank on various boards, including those of Gavi, the Global Fund, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.

In March 2019, he contested on the platform of the People’s Redemption Party but lost to the PDP candidate and former Minister of FCT, Bala Muhammed.

On July 1, 2019, he was appointed Julio Frenk Professor of Public Health Leadership at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.

In September 2021, Pate returned to Harvard University as a Julio Frenk Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Again in May 2022, he participated in the governorship primary election of the APC but lost to a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.

On October 11, 2022, Pate was conferred with the Commander of the Order of the Niger.

In July 2023, he relinquished the top job as the Chief Executive Officer of Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, to return to Nigeria and contribute to his home country.

Pate was due to assume the position on August 3, Gavi had announced in February, taking over from U.S. medical epidemiologist Seth Berkley, who had been in charge since 2011.

Pate informed Gavi “that he has taken an incredibly difficult decision to accept a request to return and contribute to his home country, Nigeria.”

He has served on several national and international panels, including the First WHO Health Systems Research Forum in 2009, in Montreux, Switzerland; Mckinsey’s Geneva Health Forum 2009, in Switzerland; Ernst Strungmann Forum, 2010, in Frankfurt, Germany; China-Africa Roundtable for Health, 2010; Pacific Summit, 2011, in Seattle, WA, USA.

Since 2017 he has been a member of the Board of Directors of the American International Health Alliance.

He is also a member of the Board for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the Steering Committee on Assessment of Impact of Polio Eradication on Routine Immunisation, for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Advisory Board of Merck for Mothers; the Steering Committee for Primary Health Care Performance Initiative; Board of the Private Health Sector Alliance of Nigeria.

Pate is married with four daughters and two sons.

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