Dr Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele

Former Director, Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, WHO, Geneva

Dr Okwo-Bele headed the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at the WHO Headquarters for the period 2005-2017. He retired from WHO in Nov 2017.

During his 36 years in public health, Dr Okwo-Bele has worked at operational and national levels in the DRCongo, at the WHO regional office for Africa as well as at the UNICEF and WHO Headquarters mainly in support of child health, disease control and immunization programmes, contributing to policy formulation,  capacity building, programme planning and evaluation, and disease surveillance. From 1993 to 2002, he directed the Polio Eradication Initiative in Africa, resulting in the reduction of polio endemic countries from 34 to 2.

At WHO Headquarters, Dr Okwo-Bele facilitated the development of the Global Vaccine Action Plan 2011-2020), its endorsement as well as its yearly progress monitoring by the World Health Assembly. Under his leadership since 2005, the WHO’s vaccine policy-making processes and recommendations became a much needed reference in guiding country level vaccine adoption as well as global level investments in this field. Dr Okwo-Bele has been involved with the Gavi Alliance since its inception and was the WHO alternate member of the Gavi alliance board and a member of the GAVI Alliance Policy and Programme Board Committee (PPC) for several years.

Dr Okwo-Bele received his Medical Degree from the Medical School of the University of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo and holds a Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.