Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate
Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate

Ali Pate: The Celebrated Physician Returning to a Familiar Terrain

It was a long wait. But eventually, the waiting ended on Thursday after President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, forwarded his much-anticipated ministerial list to the Red Chamber of the National Assembly, NASS.

The list, comprising seasoned technocrats and some accomplished politicians, was delivered to the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, by the Chief of Staff, CoS, to Mr. President, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila.

Expected to soon become Honourable Ministers are the 28 names in the first batch of the ministerial nominees sent to the Senate. But among the ministers-designate is one consummate public health practitioner of international repute, who has made waves locally and internationally.

He is Professor Muhammad Ali Pate, CON, an acclaimed physician and Professor of Public Health Leadership in the Department of Global Health and Population at Harvard University.

Pate, who hails from Misau Local Government Area of Bauchi State was born on 6th September 1968. Upon completing his secondary school education, Prof. Pate moved to the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Medical School, Zaria, Kaduna State, where he obtained his first degree, after which he started work in the institution’s teaching hospital, before moving to Gambia where he worked in rural hospitals and the British Medical Research Council Laboratories.

He also holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from Duke University in the United States; studied at University College London and holds a master’s degree in Health Systems Management from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Ali Pate served as the Executive Director, National Primary Healthcare Development Development Agency (NPHCDA) between 2008 – 2011. After his assignment at the NPHCDA, he assumed the office of Minister of State for Health in the same year, during which he led a flagship initiative to revive routine immunisations and primary healthcare, before resigning in July 2013.

Prior to his appointment as NPHCDA boss, Pate had an extensive career spanning over ten years at the World Bank in Washington DC, and held several senior positions including Senior Health Specialist and Human Development Sector Coordinator for the East Asia/Pacific Region and Senior Health Specialist for the African Region.

Pate also served as the Global Director for Health, Nutrition and Population and Director of the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents (GFF) at the World Bank Group.

In February 2023, Prof. Ali Pate, after standing out from the pack of world-class candidates due to his knowledge and experience of national immunisation programmes, international emergency response and global finance, was announced to take over the reins of the Global Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) in Geneva, Switzerland, on August 3, this year.

During the last days of June 2023, Pate regrettably informed the Gavi Board that he has taken an incredibly difficult decision to accept a request to return and contribute to his home country.

With his intimidating profile, vast erudition and decades experience on handling issues around global public health, the coast appears to have been cleared for Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, one of Nigeria’s celebrated physicians, to again return to a terrain he is familiar with, and head the Federal Ministry of Health in Tinubu’s awaiting cabinet.