Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals

Dr Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele

WHO / P. Virot

Dr Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele has been Director of the WHO Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals since 2004. He is responsible for strategic direction, coordination and management of normative and programmatic immunization activities.

During his 27 years in public health, Dr Okwo-Bele worked at country, regional and global levels in support of the expansion of childhood 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. In mid-2000, he coordinated the development of the WHO/UNICEF Global Immunization Vision and Strategy for 2006-2015, which set a number of immunization goals and strategies aimed at expanding the benefits of existing and new vaccines to more people.

Dr Okwo-Bele trained as a physician in the former Zaïre (Democratic Republic of the Congo), receiving his medical degree in 1981; and as an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health in the US in 1986. His previous appointments include: Chief, Immunization Activities, UNICEF Headquarters (2002-2004); Regional Adviser, Vaccine-Preventable Disease Unit in the WHO African Regional Office (1993-2002) and Expanded Programme on Immunization Manager at provincial and national levels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the 1980s. He has contributed to several published papers, international conferences on vaccines and immunization and serves in the GAVI Alliance Policy and Programme Board Committee.