Daniel Greymore – Lancet

A health diplomat who helped guide the UK’s health and development financing strategy. He was born on March 10, 1973 in Woking, United Kingdom and died on May 29, 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland, at the age of 52.

As a civil servant and health diplomat, Daniel Graymore has often had to deal with fraught situations. His colleagues said he’s been adept at such diplomacy, whether it’s leading the UNAIDS board of directors through its response to allegations of sexual harassment within the agency or directing the renewal of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Danny had a positivity that overcame any obstacle,” said Carol Prizren, professor of global health policy practice at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK. He had a sense of social justice. He was a tough negotiator, but he did it in a palatable way.”

Greymore studied geography at University College London, UK, graduating in 1992. Four years later he received a master’s degree in development studies at London South Bank University, UK. By that time, he was already working in the non-profit sector. His role as responsible for private sector, commercial policy and advocacy at Christian Aid first came to the attention of the former UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID). Graymore joined the Policy Division of the Department for International Development in 2003, initially as part of the Global AIDS Policy Team. Robin Gurna, who is now Vice Chair of the Technical Review Committee of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, led the team at the time and recalls that they were “under tremendous pressure from the government” in the lead-up to the UK’s presidencies of both the Council of the European Union and what was then known the Group of Eight in 2005. Improving the global response to HIV has been a priority under both presidencies and “we’ve had to deliver things that are politically exciting and that will have a real impact,” Gorna recalls. She said Graymore “has taken advantage of the political opportunity to improve issues of importance.”

Greymore rose through the Department for International Development, eventually becoming Vice President and Acting Country Director of Ghana’s Department for International Development in 2010 and Country Director of Uganda’s Department for International Development in 2012. There he faced a difficult diplomatic situation with allegations of embezzlement by local government officials. Even when the UK paused direct funding to the Ugandan government, Ali Forder, who was deputy head of the DFID office in Uganda at the time, said he had “worked very hard to make sure we succeeded in trying and maintaining good relations”. “Importantly, he made sure it didn’t affect what we were trying to do with the programs that were taking place there,” said Forder, who is now director of program quality and impact at Save the Children UK. “He helped people do their best in all the situations he was in,” said his wife, Louise Greymore, chief operations and strategy for UNICEF’s Private Sector Division in Geneva, Switzerland. “He instilled passion in everything he was doing. Everyone wanted to be on the team.”

In 2016, Graymore became DFID’s Senior Representative in Geneva and Head of DFID’s Global Funds Division, helping to coordinate and direct the UK’s global health priorities across a range of agencies, including the World Health Organization and the Global Fund. In that position, he took over as chair of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS Coordination Board in 2018. That year, the agency was shaken by allegations of sexual harassment, precipitating an investigation that exposed an environment of bullying and abuse of power. “He played a critical role during that very difficult time in sustaining this organization’s progress,” said Jane Ellison, WHO’s Executive Director of External Relations and Governance. “He’s gone through a robust process” to respond to the crisis, Ellison adds.

A member of the Gavi Board of Directors from 2016 to 2020, Graymore was one of the main forces behind organizing the 2020 Alliance Replenishment, hosted by the UK Government. The renewal effort coincided with a change in Britain’s prime minister and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Graymore “was unbearable,” said Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi, the vaccine alliance. “No one has ever done a renovation at this level before. It has made a huge amount of difference. You can identify it in the funding and the work that has been done in the Gavi effort.”

The following year, Graymore was seconded to the WHO as Director of Strategic Engagement. “He was full of ideas, including a new investment case for the WHO,” said Ellison, who became its president. For his contributions to improving health and wellness, Greymore received the Excellence in Performance Medal in 2021. He is survived by his wife, Louise, their daughter Rose, and sons Jim and Elijah.