Dr. Solomon Zewdu

Deputy Director for Global Development, Health and Nutrition, Africa, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Dr. Solomon Zewdu is the deputy director in the Africa office of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where he shapes continental health, nutrition, disease eradication and development investments. Prior to moving to the continental platform, he served as the deputy director in Ethiopia, where he created significant opportunities for system-based investments; built on concurrently identifying, planning and aligning the Foundation’s priorities with the Government of Ethiopia HSTP and the donor community. Given his background in emergency management strategy, planning and response, he also serves as the BMGF COVID-19 coordinator for the African continent, to inform the shaping of critical COVID-19 interventions.  Prior to joining the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Zewdu worked both in the private sector and US Department of Defense up to a rank of Lieutenant Colonel - USAF. He relocated to Ethiopia to take the position of Country Director for US PEPFAR program under the joint program of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health.

2:10pm – 3:10pm EAT

Tuesday, 9 March 2021 Day 2

Plenary 2: Build Back Better: Health Security Beyond COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how glaring gaps in health security and health systems preparedness can fail to prevent the spread of disease outbreaks. To ensure Africa does not have to face the crippling effects of another pandemic, we need a well-planned and integrated response to improving health security and building healthy societies. This plenary will focus on how governments, private sector entities, civil society organizations and development partners need to put in place long term, country-led strategies to prevent another widespread disease outbreak and ultimately build back better post-COVID-19. This plenary will make the case for urgent, concrete action for governments and health leaders to take in order to strengthen health systems, prepare and protect populations from future disease outbreaks; highlight existing response and preparedness strategies to mitigate the risks of future disease outbreaks and build resilient health systems; and call upon health leaders, policy makers, pan-African organizations, academic and research institutions, and global organizations to commit to disease outbreak preparedness and recovery measures.