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Geneva, 17 May 2023 – Today, the RBM Partnership celebrates a new phase of leadership, welcoming Dr. Michael Adekunle Charles as permanent CEO and 22 members to the Partnership’s largely representative new Board, led by incoming Chair Joy Phumaphi. This revitalised leadership structure will enhance the Partnership’s ability to effectively deliver on its Strategic Plan and facilitate the delivery and achievement of our collective goal of ending malaria.

Dr. Michael Adekunle Charles Assumes Role of Permanent CEO

Dr. Michael Adekunle Charles comes to the role of permanent CEO as an experienced diplomat, medical doctor, and public health expert. Currently serving as the Head of Delegation for Southern Africa at the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Dr. Charles has many years of experience leading the organisation’s malaria coordination in Africa, providing technical, managerial and operational support.

I am honoured to join the RBM Partnership to End Malaria as CEO and lead our work forward during this pivotal moment to mobilise resources and accelerate progress in the fight against malaria,” said Dr. Charles. “I look forward to working with the new Board, our partners and the wider malaria community with a renewed sense of urgency and commitment to achieve our collective vision of a malaria-free world.”

Dr. Charles was preceded by Dr. Corine Karema, who led the Partnership since April 2022 as Interim CEO during a period of rapid global change. She will continue to serve as Interim CEO until Dr. Charles formally takes office on 1 July. 

The RBM Partnership to End Malaria extends its profound gratitude to Dr. Karema for her valued dedication over the past year, and her continued partnership in the fight against malaria.

The Board is extremely grateful to Dr. Karema, who stepped into the role on very short notice during a difficult time with limited staff,” said outgoing Board Chair Professor Maha Taysir Barakat. “She has done a spectacular job leading us with grace and dedication through critical events and has been instrumental in supporting the Partnership’s complex governance transition process.”

Inaugural Meeting of the New Board 

The new Board, which is largely representative to better capture the perspectives of malaria-affected countries, had its first meeting in Geneva, Switzerland on 16 May. Outgoing members of the previous Board were in attendance at a retreat on 15 May with the new Board members for a handover to the new Board. The new board structure aims to ensure all Board deliberations are balanced, holistic, and unbiased and is currently comprised of 22 members, with 5 previous members serving as representational members in the new Board configuration. 

In accordance with the Bye-laws, over half of the new Board’s members represent malaria-affected countries. The members include:

  • Board Chair

    • Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) 

  • Representatives of malaria-affected countries in the Africa, Asia and Pacific, Americas 

    • Julio Rakotorina, Director, Directorate of Health and Humanitarian Affairs, African Union Commission

    • Irene Isaka, Director Social Sectors, East African Community (EAC)

    • Kapinga-Yvette Ngandu, Commissioner for Gender Promotion, Human and Social Development, Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)

    • Angele Makombo, N’Tumba, Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration, South African Development Community (SADC)

    • Melchior Athanase, J.C. AISSI, Director General, West African Health Organization (WAHO)

    • Sarthak Das, Chief Executive Officer, Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA)

    • Culwick Togamana, Health Minister, Government of Solomon Islands

    • Keith Carter, Malaria Technical Advisory Group, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)

  • Representatives of Civil Society

    • Lola Dare, President, Chestrad Global

    • Joseph Wato, Executive Director, Pentecostal Advocates for Socio-Economic Development (PENASED)

  • Representatives of key funders in the fight against malaria

    • David Walton, U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator, President’s Malaria Initiative

    • Helen Jamet, Deputy Director of Vector Control, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    • Marijke Wijnroks, Head of Strategic Investment and Impact Division, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

    • Nassar al Mubarak, Senior Director, Reaching the Last Mile 

  • Private sector representatives

    • Sherwin Charles, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Goodbye Malaria

    • Caroline Desrousseaux, Director of Sales for Public Health, Vestergaard Frandsen

  • Science and innovation sector representative

    • Lynette Isabella Achieng Oyier, Senior Scientist and Vice Chairperson of the Biosciences Department, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP)

  • A WHO representative 

    • Daniel Ngamije, Director Global Malaria Programme, World Health Organization (WHO)

  • Unaffiliated representatives:

    • Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Singer and Public Figure 

    • Yacine Djibo, Founder and Executive Director, SpeakUp Africa

  • A host agency (UNOPS) representative

    • Andrew Kirkwood, Director Geneva Office, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) 

Joy Phumaphi Appointed as Board Chair

Ms. Joy Phumaphi took up her position as Chair of the Partnership’s Board on 16 May, along with Marijke Wijnroks of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, who will maintain her role  as Vice-Chair. 

Ms. Phumaphi assumed the chairship from Professor Maha Taysir Barakat, former Director General of the Health Authority Abu Dhabi, who has completed her three-year term as Board Chair. Marijke Wijnroks, Head of the Strategic Investment and Impact Division for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, will continue on as Vice-Chair to assist Ms. Phumaphi.

Joy Phumaphi currently serves as Executive Secretary of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA). Ms. Phumaphi is a former health minister of Botswana, with decades of experience leading health and development programmes in Botswana and with international organisations like WHO, World Bank, UNDP and many others.

I am humbled by the confidence that the Partnership has placed in me, by nominating me as the Chair,” said Ms. Phumaphi. “After our first meeting together, I am greatly inspired by the strength and breadth of this new Board and its mandate to galvanise global action towards a malaria-free world.”

The RBM Partnership is poised to enter a new era of dynamic leadership with the arrival of Dr. Charles, Ms. Phumaphi, and a highly representational new Board. With their strong leadership, the Partnership is energised to redouble its efforts to meet the ambitious goals outlined in the Strategic Plan, ramp up the fight against malaria and bring an end to the disease. 

The Partnership will hold a partner briefing on June 6 to formally introduce the new permanent CEO and Board. 

About the RBM Partnership to End Malaria 

The RBM Partnership to End Malaria is the largest global platform for coordinated action against malaria. Originally established as Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership in 1998, it mobilises action and resources and forges consensus among partners. The Partnership comprises more than 500 partners, including malaria-endemic countries, their bilateral and multilateral development partners, the private sector, non-governmental and community-based organisations, foundations, and research and academic institutions.