Ms. Sujatha Rao is an exemplary leader in public health. She did her postgraduation at Delhi University, and later earned her master's degree in public administration at the Harvard Kennedy School. Ms. Rao is also a Takemi Fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, and we are fortunate enough to have her joining us again as the inaugural Gro Harlem Brundtland Senior Leadership Fellow.
Ms. Rao has served the Indian government in a number of different capacities, from serving as the secretary of family welfare in the state of Andhra Pradesh to working her way up as director, joint secretary, and finally as the Union secretary of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the government of India.While in her position as Union secretary, Ms. Rao launched the country's first ever national program for non- communicable diseases, and also established critical regulations for the medical education, drug, and medical device fields. She also worked to help revitalize the country's primary health care system by introducing concepts such as performance- based financing.
Among other achievements that should not be overlooked, Ms. Rao also worked as the director general of the National AIDS Control Organization in India, where she increased the organization's capacity and ultimately helped bring down the newrate of HIV infections by 50%.
Ms. Rao has served as the vice chair of the World Health Organization's Global Advisory Board on Nursing and Midwifery. She was the chairperson of the portfolio committee of the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria, and is currently on the global advisory panel of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Ms. Rao was also the founding board member of the Public Health Foundation of India, and has represented her country on boards of the WHO, the Global Fund, and UNAID.