Washington, D.C. – The Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin) announced that Professor Richard Adegbola and Yacine Djibo have been elected to the Board of Trustees. Professor Adegbola is a microbiologist, public health advocate and professor in Lagos, Nigeria. Ms. Djibo is founder and executive director of Speak Up Africa, a policy and advocacy action tank promoting public health and development based in Dakar, Senegal.
Sabin will benefit from their global health leadership, as well as their expertise creating community-led solutions to increase vaccine uptake and advance vaccine equity at this critical moment for immunization efforts worldwide, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that due to COVID-19, vaccination campaigns have been postponed in 50 countries: more than half of the affected countries are in Africa.
“As Sabin continues to meet today’s changing immunization landscape,” Richard’s deep background in the lab developing vaccines and, on the ground, delivering them and Yacine’s work developing cross-sector campaigns that spotlight the importance of vaccines and vaccine equity will be invaluable to Sabin and our work to ensure more people globally can get the lifesaving vaccines they need,” said Regina Rabinovich, MD, MPH, chair of the Sabin Board of Trustees.
Professor Adegbola is a research professor at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research and a consultant for Immunization & Global Health, RAMBICON. His 40-year career has focused on preventing infectious diseases, strengthening health care systems and mentoring young researchers. His dedication to making vaccines more accessible came while working in The Gambia. There, his research contributed to the widespread use of the Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine, which had been the leading cause of meningitis in children. When given routinely, this vaccine now results in a 90 percent decrease in severe Hib infections.
Professor Adegbola’s expertise has also helped shape pneumonia research at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and community-led decision making with GlaxoSmithKline. He holds a PhD in medical microbiology and bacteriology from University of Dundee (UK). “With vaccination in low- and middle-income countries, you have to start thinking from day one, how will this be sustainable? You must bring people into the process to take ownership,” he said. “Sabin shares these values and I’m delighted to be joining the board.”
Ms. Djibo founded Speak Up Africa in 2011 to help fill a gap in African voices and leadership contributing to global development policies and the United Nation’s sustainable development goals. Today, the organization works in 10 countries in West and Central Africa driving economic sustainability through bolstering public health. In response to the pandemic, she helped form Stay Safe Africa, a platform for organizations and communities to create tangible actions that build trust around vaccines, as well as a campaign advocating for vaccine equity. Currently, only 0.3 percent of COVID-19 vaccine supply is going to low-income countries.
While pursuing a career in finance, Ms. Djibo’s interest in global health began when she joined the Malaria No More’s Senegal office as its country director. There, she led public and private-sector collaborations to promote malaria treatment and prevention. Ms. Djibo holds a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor of arts and science in international relations from Boston University. “Community engagement is key to overcoming mistrust and building confidence through actions like using proven channels of communication, engaging trusted messengers with roots in the community and working toward equitable access,” she said. “I’m excited to support programs like Boost, a community dedicated to the needs of immunization professionals, in building capacity sub-nationally and then applying lessons to other places.”
“Richard and Yacine are respected thought leaders, tireless advocates and innovative problem solvers who share our belief that communities and families everywhere must have equal access to the vaccines they need,” commented Amy Finan, Sabin’s chief executive officer.
With the appointment of Professor Adegbola and Ms. Djibo, Sabin’s board consists of 14 members.
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About the Sabin Vaccine Institute
The Sabin Vaccine Institute is a leading advocate for expanding vaccine access and uptake globally, advancing vaccine research and development, and amplifying vaccine knowledge and innovation. Unlocking the potential of vaccines through partnership, Sabin has built a robust ecosystem of funders, innovators, implementers, practitioners, policy makers and public stakeholders to advance its vision of a future free from preventable diseases. As a non-profit with more than two decades of experience, Sabin is committed to finding solutions that last and extending the full benefits of vaccines to all people, regardless of who they are or where they live. At Sabin, we believe in the power of vaccines to change the world. For more information, visit https://www.sabin.org and follow us on Twitter, @SabinVaccine.