Dr Magda Robalo Correia e Silva is a Public health leader and active influencer. She is currently the Minister of Public Health of Guinea-Bissau.
Her professional career spans for nearly 30 years and has positively impacted people’s lives. She has contributed to improved health outcomes, organizational development, health and community systems strengthening. She is a partnership builder, a gender activist and an advocate for human development and rights.
From 2015 to 2018, she was the Director of the Communicable Diseases Cluster (CDS) at the Regional Office for Africa of the World Health Organization (WHO), leading WHO’s work on HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, Tuberculosis, Malaria, Neglected Tropical Diseases and Protection of the Human Environment Programmes in the African region. She coordinated a team of experts to advise African countries and work with partners in shaping health policies, promoting innovative and lasting solutions aimed at improving people’s health and wellbeing and reducing poverty. Some tangible results of her CDS’ Directorship include the establishment of an innovative public-private partnership-based special programme for the control of Neglected Tropical Diseases (ESPEN), pioneering coordinated HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Hepatitis programmes, operationalizing a new Programme focusing on Hepatitis Elimination and actively partnering to address the HIV/AIDS critical challenges in West and Central Africa. Her focus on Public Health and Environment led to a strengthened team to drive impact in the areas of water and sanitation, climate change and environmental health. She brought significant emphasis to the work to eradicate Guinea Worm Disease, one that causes major suffering, poverty, stigma and discrimination and disproportionately affects marginalized areas.
Dr Robalo’s professional experience in public health started in 1990 in her native Guinea-Bissau. She emerged as a young female leader and progressively rose to the positions of Director of the National Malaria and HIV/AIDS Programmes and Deputy Director of Communicable Diseases in the Ministry of Health, before joining UNICEF Guinea-Bissau as Programme Adviser for the Expanded Programme on Immunization, focusing on child health, polio eradication and routine immunization. She worked closely with the Ministry of Family and Gender, contributing to the development of the Strategic Plan on Women and Development.
Dr Robalo was the Lead Health Programme Officer at Plan International Guinea-Bissau where she spearheaded a commùnity driven malaria control programme in remote, rural east Regions of Guinea- Bissau, targeting women and children, and building community resilience through linkages with women led schèmes for revenue generation. The rapid expansion in coverage and use of insecticide-treated nets, improvement in access to effective malaria treatment significantly impacted people’s lives by reducing hospital admissions and community reported fever cases.
She joined WHO in 1998 as Medical Officer and became the Malaria Regional Advisor, a position she held from 2002 to 2007. She is widely credited for her leadership in helping countries transition from chloroquine-based treatment policies to the more effective artemisinin-based combination therapies, championing prevention and control of malaria in pregnancy, addressing epidemic prevention and control, establishing the Sahel Malaria Initiative and facilitating the channeling of financial resources to country programmes through development of proposals to the Global Fund.
Dr Robalo was the Head of WHO Country Offices in Namibia (2008-2013) and Ghana (2014-2015) after being the acting Head of WHO Offices in South Africa and Zambia. She advanced the nutrition, maternal, newborn and child mortality, HIV/AIDS agenda in Namibia, with successful resource mobilization efforts