Jean Marie Okwo Bele’s biography, fact, career, awards, net worth and life story

Intro Congolese physician
Is Physician
From Democratic Republic of the Congo
Type Healthcare
Gender male

1 January 1957

Age 64 years

Jean Marie Okwo-Bele, MD, MPH (born February 23, 1957 in Banningville, Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo)) is a Congolese physician, epidemiologist, and public health expert at the World Health Organization (WHO). He was appointed Director of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals of the WHO in 2004.

Early life and education

Okwo-Bele trained as a physician in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), receiving his medical degree in 1981 from the University of Zaire Kinshasa Campus (now University of Kinshasa). He went on to train as an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health (now the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) in 1986.


From 1982 to 1989, Jean Marie Okwo-Bele served as an Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) Manager, within the EPI-Combatting Child Communicable Diseases division of the Department of Health of the DRC. He joined the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) in 1989 as a medical officer, and epidemiologist. He went on to become Regional Adviser at WHO/AFRO, in charge of the Vaccine and Preventable Disease Unit, in 1993.

In 2002, Okwo Bele left WHO to join another UN Agency, UNICEF, where he held the position of Chief of Immunization Activities, at the UNICEF Headquarters in New York City. He held this position until he was called back to WHO in 2004 to serve as the new Director of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. In this position, he has responsibility for strategic direction, coordination and management of the WHO normative and programmatic immunization activities, ranging from vaccine research, vaccine quality and safety to immunization policy and immunization services delivery.

From the WHO website:

During his 25 years in public health, he worked to support the expansion of integrated childhood communicable diseases programmes, such as the Expanded Programme on Immunization and control of diarrhoeal diseases and malaria. He participated in the surveillance and investigation of outbreaks of monkeypox and Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Congo. From 1993 to 2002, he directed the Polio Eradication Initiative in Africa (resulting in the reduction of polio endemic countries from 34 to 2) and coordinated efforts to formulate the strategic direction for overall immunization activities in the African region. More recently, he ensured the oversight and coordination of the development of the WHO/UNICEF Global Immunization Vision and Strategy for 2006-2015, which was adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2005.

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