Dr Githinji Gitahi
GROUP CEO AMREF HEALTH AFRICA
Since the Covid-19 Pandemic docked on the Kenya shores early March 2020, one man outside the government has been very vocal in guiding the participations of experts and the general discourse with the citizenry on matters to do with this Pandemic.
From providing information on understanding the nature of the SARS CoV 2 virus that causes the COVID-19 to importance and safety of vaccines. Dr Githinji is also at the forefront among experts advising on the importance of taking the jabs, in addition to dispelling the myths and falsehood being peddled on the possible deleterious effects and side effects of taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
When he turned 50, Dr. Githinji Gitahi has been sharing with Kenyans wisdom rung from his 50 years on earth as well as his exposure in life through first hand experiences and personal knowledge acquired from his professional life, words of wisdom that he has since turned into a very readable and presentable coffee table accessory.
Dr. Githinji has also contributed to a number of conferences, programmes and projects geared towards providing Universal Health Coverage for the majority of Kenyans, one of his hallmark objectives.
Dr Githinji Gitahi remains one person who has clearly led from the front in sharing facts and giving timely, honest and often courageous information to help manage and contain the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Dr Githinji Gitahi is the Group Chief Executive Officer at AMREF Health Africa since June 2015, having joined them from Smile Train, where he was Vice-President. Amref Health Africa, founded in 1957, is the largest Africa-led international organization, reaching more than 11 million people each year through 150 health-focused projects across 35 countries.
A graduate of University of Nairobi with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery MBBS 1990-1996, Dr Gitahi also holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in Marketing Management from the United States International University-Africa (USIU-A). He then read Strategic Perspectives for Non-Profit Management in 2016 at Havard University.
In addition to demonstrating strong leadership traits in health, insurance and media, Dr Githinji Gitahi is currently one of the most distinguished thought leaders in the healthcare industry and policy, a space he demonstrated his acumen and vision since the advent of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
A passionate advocate for pro-poor Universal Health Coverage, Dr Githinji Gitahi also served as General Manager for Marketing and Circulation in East Africa for the Nation Media Group (NMG).
Dr Githinji Gitahi has also held progressively senior positions at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and includes a stint at the Avenue Group in his corporate journey.
Dr Githinji Gitahi is co-Chair of the UHC2030 Steering Committee, a global World Bank and World Health Organization (WHO) initiative for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as well as serving on the Governing Board of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and prevention (Africa CDC).
In December 2018, Dr Gitahi was bestowed the ‘Moran of the Order of the Burning Spear’ (MBS) award by the President of Kenya in recognition of his outstanding contribution and commitment to the health sector in Kenya.
Amref Health Africa, founded in 1957 and currently headquartered in Nairobi Kenya, is the largest Africa-based International Non-Governmental Organisation (INGO). With a focus on increasing sustainable health access, Amref runs programmes in over 35 countries in Africa, with lessons learnt over 60 years of engagement with governments, communities and partners.
Amref Health Africa also engages in programme development, fundraising, partnership, advocacy, monitoring and evaluation, and has offices in Europe and North America as well as subsidiaries: Amref Flying Doctors, Amref Enterprises and the Amref International University.
During the 1980s, Amref Health Africa moved into community health development, closer collaboration with the ministries of health in the region, and cooperation with international aid agencies. This set the organisation’s course for the 1980s and beyond. Greater emphasis was given to strengthening health systems. The organization has grown in leaps and bounds, to impacting over 10 million people annually through its three strategic pillars on:
- Human Resources for Health-focused on developing and sustaining human resources for health to catalyze the attainment of Universal Health Coverage in Africa.
- Innovative Health Services and Solutions-focused on developing and delivering sustainable health services and solutions for improved access to and utilization of quality preventive, curative and restorative health services.
- Investments in Health-focused on contributing to increased investments in health to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2030.
Its subsidiaries, Amref Flying Doctors (AFD) is the leading provider of fixed – wing air ambulance services in Africa. AFD has been in the aeromedical transport industry for more than 60 years – operating from Wilson Airport in Nairobi. Its fully owned fleet of aircraft ranging from short field Pilatus PC 12 to long-range jet aircraft including Citation Bravo and Citation XLS is available to evacuate patients from remote bush airstrips as well as to repatriate patients by jet air ambulance to other continents for specialized medical care. Additionally, its fully equipped and dedicated air ambulance fleet operates several Advanced Life Support (ALS) Ground Ambulances and a 24/7 Operations and Emergency Control Centre (OECC). Amref Flying Doctors is internationally accredited by the European Aeromedical Institute (EURAMI) for its high professional standards and has twice been a recipient of the prestigious ITIJ Air Ambulance Provider of the Year award. Any surplus revenue generated by Amref Flying Doctors supports Amref Health Africa’s humanitarian work and is crucial in helping the organisation to achieve its mission of lasting health change in Africa.
Since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic, and with its vision to creating lasting health change in Africa, Amref Health Africa has been responding to the pandemic in 10 countries across East, West and Southern Africa. These include Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Zambia, Malawi, South Africa, Senegal and Guinea.
As a partner to the WHO African Regional Office and Africa CDC, Amref Health Africa was enlisted in the emergency response taskforces of the Ministries of Health in Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Senegal, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. By sharing their technical expertise and leveraging its strong relationships with communities, Amref Health Africa contributed to shaping various national strategies on COVID-19.
Amref Health Africa’s approach to responding to the virus was multilateral, taking on the crisis at all levels. While its long-established, robust relationships at global, regional and national level positioned it to advise on country policy, the organization remained acutely aware that without community buy-in, actions taken to stop the pandemic would fail. This is why Amref Health Africa’s response was grounded in community engagement and awareness-raising, delivered through a network of Community Health Workers (CHWs).
Guided by three principal objectives, Amref Health Africa’s response focused on preventing transmission, preventing death, and preventing social harm. For Amref Health Africa, it was important to address both the immediate and the secondary impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, taking into account the potential long-term effects on other structural health system concerns, as well as the wider social and psychological impacts, stifled youth opportunities, and increased rates of gender-based violence (GBV). Amref Health Africa focused on:
- Building Capacity for Health Workers
- Supporting Work Places to Ensure Continuity of Economic Activities
- Supporting Flow of Goods and Continuity of Trade between Countries
- Water, Sanitation, Hygiene-Infection Prevention and Control (WASH-IPC)
- Service Delivery including COVID-19 Testing
- Water, Sanitation, Hygiene-Infection Prevention and Control (WASH-IPC)
- Procurement and distribution of PPEs to health workers
- COVID-19 Disease Surveillance, Partnerships and Business Development for COVID Programming among other areas.
Amref Health Africa continues to grow, positively impacting the lives of many communities in Africa and strategically positioning itself as the leading health development organization in Africa.
Dr Githinji Gitahi is 2022 BUSINESS MONTHLY EAST AFRICA TOP 25 MOST INFLUENTIAL CEO IMPACTING BUSINESS.