Commonwealth and PATH join forces to advance health equity

09 March 2022
Press release
Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland and President and CEO of PATH, Mr Nikolaj Gilbert

The Commonwealth Secretariat and global non-profit PATH are joining forces to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines across the Commonwealth, while also striving to eliminate malaria and address other public health challenges.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed by Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland and President and CEO of PATH, Mr Nikolaj Gilbert outlined several key areas for innovation and collaboration.

This includes leveraging innovative and digital technologies to strengthen Commonwealth countries’ health systems and epidemic preparedness and response.

The MOU will allow both organisations to work together to build digital health and health data capacity in public health systems, in order to strengthen disease surveillance and mitigation capabilities.

Parties also agreed to promote universal health coverage across the Commonwealth, while paying particular attention to the needs of small island nations and lower income countries.

Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland said:

“The health of the 2.5 billion people of the Commonwealth is precious. In the face of the dreadful COVID-19 pandemic and life-threatening diseases such as malaria which continue to affect many of our member countries, every single person regardless of background or location deserves access to vital vaccines.

“It is imperative that we coordinate and intensify our efforts to overcome these deadly but preventable diseases. This new partnership with PATH will allow us to advance on our shared priorities and support the critical work we are carrying out with other leading multilateral institutions such as the World Health Organization.”

PATH President and CEO, Nikolaj Gilbert said:

“With this formalized partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat, we now have the opportunity to collaborate with all member states to advance more equitable access to essential health services globally.”

“We are humbled and energised by the rich diversity and strengths of these 54 countries and our shared commitment in advancing progress against malaria and other life-threatening diseases, improving digital health systems, and supporting the development of critical tools and programs for public health for one-third of the world's population. Our collective efforts, evidence, and expertise, galvanized for health equity, demonstrate partnership at its best.”

According to the COVID 19 Dashboard published on the Commonwealth Innovation Hub, more than 85 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the Commonwealth’s 54 member countries since the outbreak, including at least 981,373 deaths.

The COVID-19 Vaccination Tracker also shows that to date, less than half of the Commonwealth’s overall population (an estimated 1.2 billion people or 47 per cent of the total) is fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Around 1.1 billion or 42.6 per cent of the total population have yet to receive a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 1.5 billion or 57.4 per cent are partly vaccinated.

Vaccination rates vary by country, from above 80 per cent in places such as Canada, Malta and Seychelles, to less than 5 per cent in Cameroon, Nigeria and Papua New Guinea.

In low-income Commonwealth countries, on average, more than 75 per cent of people remain unvaccinated, compared to less than 25 per cent in high income countries.

Twenty-five countries of the Commonwealth are malaria-endemic, accounting for 56 per cent of the world’s malaria deaths and 54 per cent of the world’s malaria cases.

About the Commonwealth

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 independent and equal sovereign states. It is home to a combined population of 2.5 billion people, more than 60 per cent of whom are under the age of 30. Members include both advanced economies and developing countries. Thirty-two are small states, many of which are island nations. The Commonwealth Secretariat supports member countries to build democratic and inclusive institutions, support sustainable development, strengthen governance, promote justice and human rights and protect the environment.

About PATH

PATH is a global nonprofit dedicated to achieving health equity. With more than 40 years of experience forging multisector partnerships, and with expertise in science, economics, technology, advocacy, and dozens of other specialties, PATH develops and scales up innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing health challenges.

Media contact

  • Josephine Latu-Sanft  Senior Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • +44 20 7747 6476  |  E-mail