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Steering Committee

The MenAfriNet Steering Committee is comprised of the key implementing partners who provide oversight and are responsible for making key decisions regarding project direction, implementation, and the monitoring of project progress toward accomplishing the goals of MenAfriNet. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the CDC Foundation participate on the Steering Committee in an observational capacity. Steering Committee members serve in their roles for the life of the project.

Voting Members:


Brad Gessner, M.D., MPH, Agence de Médicine Préventive

Bradford Gessner is scientific director and chief epidemiologist at Agence de Médicine Préventive (AMP). In this role he is responsible for the oversight of AMP’s scientific studies and publications. Dr. Gessner has participated in several large clinical trials, authored more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, and served as an expert consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO) on panels dealing with meningitis, yellow fever, and respiratory infections, including influenza. His areas of expertise include vaccine-preventable diseases, pediatric epidemiology, polysaccharide encapsulated organisms, and respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV). Previously, Dr. Gessner founded and directed the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Epidemiology Unit within the Alaska Division of Public Health. He also worked as a staff pediatrician at the Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center. In 1993 he completed an Epidemic Intelligence Service fellowship with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a two-year, post-graduate on-the-job training program for health professionals interested in applied epidemiology. Dr. Gessner earned his BA from Dartmouth College and his MD from the University of Florida. After completing his pediatric residency at the University of Colorado, he obtained his MPH and completed a Preventive Medicine residency at the University of Washington. He currently serves on the faculty of the University Of Washington School Of Medicine and the University of Alaska Anchorage.


Rana Hajjeh, M.D., U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Rana Hajjeh did her undergraduate and medical studies at the American University of Beirut (AUB) (B.S. ’84, M.D. ’88). During 1988-1993, she trained in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Emory University, Atlanta, GA, and is board certified in both. In 1993, she joined the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for a two-year training, and has been at CDC since. During 2003-2005, Dr. Hajjeh was the director of the Surveillance Program at the U.S. Navy Medical Research Unit-3 (NAMRU3) in Cairo, Egypt, where she worked closely with WHO, and all countries in the region to set up systems for laboratory-based surveillance and outbreak response. During 2005-2009, Dr. Hajjeh was the director of the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization’s (GAVI) Hib Initiative, a consortium including Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, CDC and WHO, which aimed at accelerating evidence-based decisions for Hib vaccines in GAVI eligible countries, and which resulted in introducing lifesaving Hib vaccines in 73 countries to millions of children. She is a Visiting Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a Visiting Professor of both Medicine and Public Health at Emory University. Currently, Dr. Hajjeh is the director of the Division of Bacterial Diseases at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC. As director, she leads a team of nearly 200 staff responsible for CDC's bacterial and vaccine-preventable disease surveillance and response efforts in the United States and globally. She continues to be very involved in global vaccines and child health issues and represents CDC on many global health committees. In addition, she has played an important role in the response and control of multiple domestic and global outbreaks that CDC has supported over the last two decades, including epidemic meningitis in Africa and in Saudi Arabia, anthrax, SARS, cholera in Haiti, and recently MERS in Saudi Arabia. Dr. Hajjeh has published over 125 peer-reviewed papers and many book chapters, and serves as a reviewer for multiple journals. She is a fellow of Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) and serves on multiple national and global public health and infectious diseases committees


Richard Mihigo, MD, MPH, WHO Regional Office for Africa

Richard Mihigo, a national from Rwanda, is the winner of the 2003 John Snow, Inc. Award for Excellence in International Health and finalist of the 2003 Rex Fendall Award for Excellence in Writing (Boston University School of Public Health, International Health Department). From 1994 to 2003, he worked at various levels in the health system in his native country including managing the national immunization program. The Rwanda EPI is one of the strongest programs in the African Region and has been able to sustain immunization DPT3 coverage above 90% for the last ten years. Dr. Mihigo coordinated the successful introduction of HepB and Hib vaccines in 2002. In January 2004 for a period of six months, he was the Permanent Secretary of the country coordinating mechanisms of the GFATM in Rwanda and has also worked in the past for WHO and UNICEF and as an independent consultant for WHO, UNICEF, USAID, and the GFATM. He was involved in the multi-country RED approach evaluation in 2007 and led the multi-partners team in 2008 that revised the RED guidelines and developed new RED monitoring tools. Dr. Mihigo has been working at WHO-AFRO since 2004 and is responsible for providing technical support and expertise to Member States in the African Region in planning, monitoring, and evaluation of routine immunization programs and new vaccines introduction, as well as developing policies, norms, and standards for immunization programs. Part of his responsibilities includes supporting Member States in establishing and strengthening partnership coordination mechanisms at country and inter-country levels and resource mobilization in support of immunization programs in the African Region.

Non-Voting Members:


Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.

Learn more about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


CDC Foundation

Established by Congress as an independent, nonprofit organization, the CDC Foundation connects the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with private-sector organizations and individuals to build public health programs that make our world healthier and safer.

Learn more about the CDC Foundation.