Pedro Alonso, New Director of the WHO’s Global Malaria Programme

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has appointed Dr. Pedro Alonso as director of its Global Malaria Programme. Dr Alonso is currently director of the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), Head of the International Health and Tropical Medicine Unit at the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, and Professor at the University of Barcelona. He will take up his position at the WHO headquarters in Geneva in October. This appointment to one of the most important posts at the UN health agency is recognition of his work in the field of global health through ISGlobal.

Dr. Alonso’s experience and leadership in the field of malaria, and particularly in the elimination of the disease, crucially influenced his appointment at this key time. His career in international health began over 25 years ago and some of his most important work has been focused on developing new tools for the prevention and treatment of malaria. He joined the WHO Malaria Policy Advisory Committee in 2011, and in the same year was elected chair of the Scientific Committee in charge of developing a global technical strategy for malaria.

The strategy for the elimination of malaria has been a priority at ISGlobal since the institute’s creation through an initiative of the Obra Social “la Caixa” in 2010. ISGlobal has played a leading role in major initiatives in this area, including the Malaria Eradication Research Agenda (malERA) and the Malaria Eradication Scientific Alliance (MESA).In 2013, the institute was designated an official WHO Collaborating Centre for Malaria Control, Elimination and Eradication in recognition of its important role in the field.

Since the WHO is currently developing a new strategy for the control and elimination of malaria over the next ten years, Dr Alonso is a natural choice to lead the implementation of this programme. In his reaction to the news,Dr Alonso responded, “It is an honour to be appointed by Dr.Margaret Chan to take charge of the WHO Global Malaria Programme.With the support of many institutions and of the leaders of the countries where the disease is endemic, I am convinced that the world can makesteady progress toward the eradication of malaria and I am very grateful for this unique opportunity to take part in this undertaking”.

In 1996, with the support of the Spanish Agency for International Development (AECID), Dr Alonso started the Manhiça Health Research Centre (CISM) in Mozambique, one of the major success stories of Spanish cooperation in health in sub-Saharan Africa. CISM’s contributions to health research in poor countries—including its work on the malaria vaccine—have had global impact, and the centre received the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation in 2008.

Barcelona Institute for Global Health - ISGlobal

ISGlobal is theresult of an innovative partnership between academic, government and philanthropic institutionsthat was set up to further the work undertaken by the international community to meet thechallenges posed by health in a globalised world. It forms the nexus of a hub of excellence dedicated to research, training and medical care that originated through an initiative of the Hospital Clínic and the University of Barcelona and is now building on those beginnings to expand its capabilities. The goal of ISGlobal’s current portfolio of projects is to reduce the health inequities that affect maydifferent populations all over the world.