Enabling future innovation to achieve UHC and better pandemic preparedness (WHA76 side event)

22 May 2023 InterContinental Hotel, Geneva & online

22 May 2023


18:00-21:00 CET




InterContinental Hotel
Ch du Petit-Saconnex, 9,
1211 Geneva


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Panel discussion

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the vital role of innovation in realizing Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and improving global pandemic preparedness.

At WHA76, we aim to explore the essential components required to achieve innovation that can facilitate UHC and robust pandemic preparedness. The discussion will encompass enablers across regulatory frameworks, policy, financing, and community partnerships. By identifying these, we can work towards making health progress accessible to all and contribute to a healthier and more equitable world.


  • Anamaria Bejar, Director of Public Policy Engagement, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
  • Thomas Cueni, Director General, IFPMA
  • Farid Fezoua, Global Director Health and Education, International Finance Corporation
  • Rogério Gaspar, Director of Regulation and Prequalification,
    World Health Organization
  • Caroline Mbindyo, CEO, Amref Health Innovations, Amref Health Africa
  • Heulwen Philpot, Head of Secretariat, International Pandemic Preparedness Secretariat
  • Leigh Ann Pusey, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communications, Eli Lilly & Co.
  • Hiiti Sillo, Unit Head, Regulation and Safety, Department of Regulation and Prequalification, World Health Organization
  • An Vermeersch, Vice President, Head of Global Health Access, GSK

For those who cannot join in person, we invite you to select “virtual registration” on the registration form.



Cocktail reception: Celebrating launch of 2nd edition of Africa Young Innovators for Health Award

While many African countries have shown their commitment to achieving universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030, progress toward attaining this goal has stalled in recent years, with the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating already strained health systems. However, young people in Africa are innovating every day to make a difference. To accelerate efforts to reach global goals dedicated to providing healthcare to anyone who needs it, the 2nd edition of the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award will focus on innovations for UHC.

On 22 May, we will open our call for applications. We are interested in hearing from those whose health innovations strive to ensure “Health for All. Everywhere.” This can be through helping to improve access to health products and services, using digital technologies to train health workers, connecting patients and healthcare providers, creating new ways of raising health awareness and improving health literacy, developing supply chain solutions, and more.

The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award is the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) and Speak Up Africa’s flagship program focused on supporting young health entrepreneurs across Africa with the tools they need to advance their promising healthcare innovations for the betterment of their communities.

During the cocktail reception, we look forward to celebrating the launch of the call for applications, and to hear from:

  • Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Minister of State of Senegal and Chair of the Scientific Committee for the Galien Forum Africa
  • Yacine Djibo, Founder and Executive Director of Speak Up Africa
  • Conrad Tankou, Founder, GIC Space & winner of the first edition of the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award

& many more!

Visit the website: www.africayounginnovatorsforhealth.org


Join us

Register now


Anamaria Bejar Director of Public Policy Engagement, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

Ms. Anamaria Bejar is the Director of Public Policy Engagement at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Previously, she was Global Director of Advocacy at International Planned Parenthood Federation, and before, Associate Director for Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean at Frontline AIDS. She has also worked in Cuba and at the Ministry of Health of Peru on primary health care. Anamaria is a social anthropologist with a Masters of Science in Health policy, Planning and Financing.

Thomas Cueni Director General, IFPMA

Thomas leads IFPMA’s mission to encourage the development of sustainable solutions that enable innovation and improve global health.


Over the past two decades, Thomas has been instrumental in developing collaborative solutions for some of the greatest global health challenges. These include HIV/AIDS and antimicrobial resistance, as well as the industry’s response to pandemics.


Since he joined IFPMA, Thomas has pioneered collaborative solutions to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR), chairing the AMR Industry Alliance and launching the AMR Action Fund. This is a USD 1 billion venture begun in July 2020 to fund the development of between two and four new antibiotics by 2030.


Thomas represents the innovative pharmaceutical industry in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator initiative, set up in April 2019. In 2022, together with industry CEOs and building on the lessons learned from COVID-19, he led the development of the Berlin Declaration. This is a vision for equitable access in global pandemic response that invites multilateral organizations as well as the G7 and G20 to agree to a social contract for future health security.


He is Chair of the Business at OECD Health Committee and serves as Industry Co-Chair of the APEC Biopharmaceutical Working Group on Ethics.

Farid Fezoua Global Director Health & Education International Finance Corporation

Farid Fezoua is the Global Director for Health & Education at IFC, a member of the World Bank Group and the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Based in Washington DC, he is responsible for managing IFC’s investment and advisory services in health and education, leading a team responsible for a $4 billion investment portfolio. Prior to joining IFC, Farid was President and CEO of General Electric Africa, leading GE’s operations in Sub-Saharan Africa, including developing sustainable solutions to strengthening health systems. Farid’s career at General Electric Company spanned 19 years, during which he served in a variety of different Executive and Senior Executive roles. Among other things, Farid led GE Healthcare’s business growth in Africa for 10 years, with a focus on addressing the continent’s need for better access to affordable and quality healthcare.

Farid has held executive and non-executive board member roles in banking and healthcare. More recently, he was Co-Chair of the United States Presidential Advisory Council for Doing Business in Africa, Vice Chair of the US-Africa Business Council, and Chair of the US-South Africa Business Council.

Rogério Gaspar Director of Regulation and Prequalification World Health Organization

Rogério Gaspar (Pharmacist, b. 1961) is the Director of RPQ (Department of Regulation and Prequalification) at the World Health Organization (WHO). He was for the last 36 years an academic, with extensive international regulatory experience during the last 26 years. Previously, among other positions, Vice-President of INFARMED and member of the management board of the European Medicines Agency (2000-2002), Vice-Rector of the University of Lisbon (2013-2017) and member of the Executive Committee and Vice-President of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Sciences (EUFEPS, 2009-2013 and 2016-2020). A researcher in Nanomedicine since 1986, he was also involved in Regulatory Science and Health Systems projects in recent years.

Caroline Mbindyo CEO, Amref Health Innovations, Amref Health Africa

Caroline is an experienced leader at the intersection of digital innovation, global health, and international development. She has extensive experience in driving complex program deployments in multiple countries, scaling innovations, and developing new business opportunities through innovative financing models in emerging markets.

She has 15+ years’ experience running and growing entrepreneurial ventures in the nonprofit and commercial space, and deploying innovative approaches for profit, purpose, and sustainability. Caroline is a Board Member of D-Tree and Qhala, and is on the Advisory Board of Analytics for a Better World.

Heulwen Philpot Head of Secretariat, International Pandemic Preparedness Secretariat

Heulwen Philpot is currently the Head of the International Pandemic Preparedness Secretariat, a time limited independent body established to support the implementation of the 100 Days Mission. Heulwen is a global health policy specialist by background, having worked at the UK department of health on the 2014 Ebola response and leading the UK’s international AMR strategy including the negotiation of the 2016 UN HLM Political declaration. More recently Heulwen was the Head of Multilateral Summits at the UK Cabinet Office overseeing G7 and G20 negotiations and the delivery of the 2021 UK G7 Presidency. In a voluntary capacity Heulwen is the head of International Advocacy at Resource Uganda, supporting grassroots community improvement programmes in Uganda. Heulwen grew up on the wild west coast of Wales and has a 1st class honours degree from the University of Cambridge.

Leigh Ann Pusey Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communications, Eli Lilly

Leigh Ann joined Lilly in June 2017. Prior to joining Lilly, Leigh Ann was president and chief executive officer of the American Insurance Association (AIA) from 2009 to June 2017. She served in several AIA leadership positions, including chief operating officer, senior vice president for government affairs, and senior vice president of public affairs.

Leigh Ann joined Lilly in June 2017. Prior to joining Lilly, Leigh Ann was president and chief executive officer of the American Insurance Association (AIA) from 2009 to June 2017. She served in several AIA leadership positions, including chief operating officer, senior vice president for government affairs, and senior vice president of public affairs.

From 1995 to 1997, Leigh Ann served as director of communications for the Office of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and from 1993 to 1994, she was the deputy director of communications for the Republican National Committee. From 1990 to 1992, she served as special assistant and then deputy assistant to the president for the White House Office of Public Liaison.

Leigh Ann earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Samford University in 1984.

Leigh Ann currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Mind Trust, an educational organization based in Indianapolis.



Hiiti Sillo Unit Head, Regulation and Safety, Department of Regulation and Prequalification at World Health Organization

Hiiti Sillo is the Unit Head, Regulation and Safety within the WHO Department of Regulation and Prequalification. He was previously the Team Lead, Regulatory Systems Strengthening (RSS) within the Regulation and Safety Unit. In his current capacity, he is responsible for coordinating WHO strategies for strengthening national and regional regulatory capacities, promoting regulatory networks, convergence, work-sharing and reliance as well as strengthening safety monitoring and addressing the global problem of substandard and falsified medical products. Before joining WHO in 2018, he was the Director General of the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA), the position he held since 2010 after serving on several technical and managerial positions within the TFDA and its predecessor, the Pharmacy Board of Tanzania. He also championed regulatory harmonization initiatives in Africa and particularly the launch of the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization (AMRH) for the East African Community, the AMRH show-case.

An Vermeersch Vice President, Head of Global Health Access, GSK

As head of Global Health Access at GSK, An is working on increasing access to vaccines and medicines in low- and middle-income countries and driving the Malaria, TB, NTD, Covid and vaccines access programs. An is focused on developing solutions to expand access and building impactful and sustainable global health access partnerships.

An has more than 25 years of experience in healthcare and particularly in vaccines and built her expertise through a career at GSK and at the consultancy firm McKinsey & Company. At GSK Vaccines, An held senior roles in Strategy, Governance and Business Transformation, Governmental and Public Affairs and R&D. An also worked in finance, commercial and supply chain.

An qualified as an Engineer in microbiology and biochemistry, has a Master’s in Business Administration and followed a Health Economics training.

Next to her role at GSK, An is also a board member of several companies.

From 2020 to 2022, An served as Gavi board member representing IFPMA.