Dr Aylward is currently on loan from WHO to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to lead a newly established Change Management Unit. In this capacity he is responsible for taking forward the recommendations from a wide-ranging functional review of OCHA to optimize its role, functions, structure and processes for the challenges of the 21st century. Immediately prior to taking up this role Dr Aylward led the inter-agency process that resulted in the first-ever system-wide activation procedures for major infectious disease emergencies.
From December 2015 through July 2016, Dr Aylward led the design and implementation of far-reaching reforms of WHO's work in emergencies, culminating in the launch of a new WHO Health Emergencies Programme, the most substantive reform in the Organization's 68 year history. From September 2014 through July 2016 he served as Special Representative of the Director-General for the Ebola Response, directing WHO's over 2000 people response to the West Africa outbreak and providing strategic and technical leadership to the United Nations Emergency Ebola Response (UNMEER).
From 2011 through 2016, Dr Aylward also led WHO’s work in preparedness, readiness and response to humanitarian emergencies as the lead agency of the Global Health Cluster. During that time he managed a comprehensive restructuring of WHO’s work in humanitarian emergencies, aligning it with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s Transformative Agenda through a new WHO Emergency Response Framework that now governs the Organization’s commitments in and management of its emergency response operations.
Dr Aylward joined the World Health Organization in 1992 and worked for eight years in the areas of immunization, communicable diseases control and polio eradication at the field and regional levels in the Middle East, Western Pacific, Europe, North Africa and Central and Southeast Asia. From 1998 to 2014, Dr Aylward led the Global Polio Eradication Initiative partnership, overseeing and managing its scale-up to operate in every polio-affected country of the world, deploy more than 6000 field personnel, develop new tools and vaccines, and reduce the number of polio-endemic countries in the world to just two.
A Canadian physician and epidemiologist by training, Dr Aylward is the author of over 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles and book chapters. He received his medical training in Canada, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.