Dr. John N. Nkengasong was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator May 5, 2022 and officially sworn in on June 13, 2022. A little over a year later, Ambassador Nkengasong joined U.S. Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken to launch State Department’s Bureau of Global Health Security and Diplomacy (GHSD) August 1, 2023, which he leads. As its Senior Bureau Official, Ambassador Nkengasong leads U.S. diplomatic engagement; leverages and helps coordinate U.S. foreign assistance; and promotes international cooperation at the national, regional, and multilateral levels to better protect the United States and the world from health threats. GHSD is now home to the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in history, prevent millions of HIV infections, save lives, and make progress toward ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic as a global health threat, which the Ambassador leads.
Born in Cameroon, Dr. Nkengasong is the first person of African origin to hold this position. In 2017, Dr. Nkengasong was appointed as the first Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Through his leadership, a framework for moving Africa CDC into a full autonomous health agency of the Africa Union was established. Dr. Nkengasong led efforts to create policy frameworks to guide countries to establish and strengthen their public health institutes and defined and implemented a system to collate national surveillance data. He also led the COVID-19 response in Africa, coordinating with heads of state and governments across the continent, among other achievements to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, he helped secure 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines at the height of vaccine scarcity. During his tenure, he was appointed as one of the World Health Organization’s special envoys on COVID-19 preparedness and response.