Top 25 CEOs setting the business agenda in 2021

Dr Elizabeth Wala studied Economic Evaluation of Global Health at the University of Washington in 2018, and holds a Master of Science degree in Infectious Diseases (LSHTM) from the University of London (2008-2011) and a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degree from the University of Nairobi (1996-2002).

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Dr Elizabeth Wala

CHIEF VISIONARY OFFICER AND FOUNDER OF WANDERLUST DIARIES

At the curtain fell on the year 2020 on December 31, three memories of Dr Wala rang and ingrained in the minds of Kenyans of all walks of life: First, the founder of the Wanderlust Diaries that inspires travel enthusiasts by sharing their stories and offering solutions to groups and individuals, especially following the lockdowns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that restricted travels, among other public activities.

Second, a relentless and passionate Covid-19 advocate. In her own words, Dr Wala states, ‘I have been on the frontline of public health messaging from a private sector angle in my role as the Vice-Chair of Kenya Healthcare Federation. In the early days of the pandemic in Kenya, I ran a weekly series on KHF’s Zoom links educating the public about the disease by having experts speak about various aspects of it. We quickly put up a KHF Covid-19 response team that tackled various technical and communications aspects of fighting the pandemic’.

I tested positive for Covid-19 on 23rd July 2020 at the height of a peak in the cases in Kenya. By then, there was a lot of stigma around the disease. The public health messages were spreading a lot of fear and blame. I documented my journey from Day 1 to Day 12 when I became symptom free. I gave a voice to many others to come forward and dispel the myths around the COVID-19 disease. I have also co-authored with my mentor on a Survival Guide for Covid-19.

Third, a Kenya Professional with moral courage, after she wrote an open letter to the Head of State, on the plight of the frontline and other health workers, especially on the need to secure and improve working conditions, environment and incentives for the doctors.

In a nutshell, and according to a colleague, Prof. Lukoye Atwoli, Dr Wala, in three phases, is a team-builder; innovative thinker; go-getter. She gets things done- from concept to action in the shortest time possible. Prof. Atwoli is Dean at Aga Khan University Medical College, East Africa, where Dr Wala is currently based, at the Aga Khan Foundation.

In the health sector, Dr Wala is a steadfast and passionate advocate for advancing Universal Health Coverage in order to ‘LeaveNoOneBehind’. She is recognized for a deep understanding of the power of multi-stakeholder partnerships and how to better engage private sector for sustainable financing and delivery of healthcare. The letter trended under the banners, We’ve got your back. Do YOU have ours? we too, have rights and #protecthealthworkers.

She is a leading key contributor to the development of several guidelines, health bills and health sector policies. Dr Wala is an accomplished leader, known and respected for program refinements and building credibility and partnerships with leading national and international health sector stakeholders and Government and Non-Governmental Organizations including Ministry of Health, county governments, WHO, IFC World Bank, IntraHealth, UNFPA, and GAVI.

Dr Elizabeth Wala with her family.

Currently, Dr Wala is the Global Advisor, Health and Nutrition at the Aga Khan Foundation, in which role she works in close collaboration with AKF’s Health and Nutrition Global Lead, alongside other members of AKF’s Global Programme Team to support the promotion and implementation of AKF’s health and nutrition strategy. The position provides ongoing support to field-based teams, lead programme design, support resource mobilisation, nurture and sustain partnerships within the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and with other key institutions globally.

Dr Wala also seats on the boards of Ponea Health, is a board director in charge of Clinical Development and Growth-SDG Kenya Forum where she is also Co-Chair since 2019. The forum provides space for a more structured and coordinated CSO engagement with government to share concrete suggestions for implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and strategies for involving the media, academia, private sector and citizen mobilization.

Dr Wala is currently Vice Chair, Kenya Healthcare Federation since 2018. The objects of which the Federation is established are:

  • To promote and enhance medical care in Kenya not limited to policy, infrastructural and costing with emphasis on the provision of affordable and accessible quality health care.
  • To provide a forum for consultation among medical professional associations, healthcare organizations, hospitals, pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, medical scheme providers, insurers, health maintenance organizations, County Government, any bodies established by such County Government, National Government bodies, Non-Governmental Organizations and other persons firms and companies and to promote the interests of the health sector.
  • To develop standards of quality health care, encourage practice of medical and business ethics, and promote a free and competitive health sector.
  • To promote access to health services through encouragement of innovation in the provision of medical care.
  • To consult, discuss and act as a negotiating body with the Government of Kenya County Governments, any bodies established by such County Governments, National Government bodies and government officials in the interest of the health sector to encourage efficient provision of quality health care and health products throughout the Republic of Kenya.
  • To champion, protect, promote and represent the interests of medical firms, health professionals, medical associations, healthcare organizations, hospitals, private clinics, pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, medical scheme providers, insurers, health maintenance organizations, and any other legal entities in the Republic of Kenya including the Counties related to the health sector.

Prior to this, Dr Wala was Amref Health Africa Kenya Programme Director, Health Systems Strengthening. Here, she provided leadership and operations management to steer growth of Health Systems strengthening programme at Amref Health Africa, a non-governmental organization committed to improving health in Africa through strengthening of health systems and partnerships with communities among other responsibilities.

Dr Wala studied Economic Evaluation of Global Health at the University of Washington in 2018, and holds a Master of Science degree in Infectious Diseases (LSHTM) from the University of London (2008-2011) and a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degree from the University of Nairobi (1996-2002).

Dr Elizabeth Wala was recognized with the Upcoming Human Rights Defender of the Year Award Nominee 2017 – for demonstrating courage and impact in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the health care space during the doctors’ industrial strike and the 2017 elections period in Kenya.

Business Daily recognized her with a 2016 listing among the Top 40 Under 40 Women – Based on her outstanding contribution to the segments of the economy in matters health in inspiring confidence in the fact that the country is on the path of progress despite the many challenges.

CITATION

  • Health System Strengthening
  • Personal Social Responsibility (PSR)
  • Policy Formulation
  • Programme Management
  • Resource Mobilization
  • Capacity Building
  • Stakeholder Relations

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Dr. Hanningtone Gaya

Dr. Hanningtone Gaya

Kenya’s Dr Hanningtone Gaya, holds a PhD in Commerce in Business Management from Nelson Mandela University (NMU), is viewed as an authority in country branding and is the founder chairman of the Brand Kenya Board.

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