Health Initiative/

Naveen Rao, MD

Senior Vice President & Senior Advisor to the President, Health Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation

Dr. Naveen Rao is Senior Vice President of the Health Initiative at The Rockefeller Foundation.  He leads a team focused on advancing Precision Public Health, which empowers community health workers with actionable insights from data and analytic tools to accelerate progress on health outcomes in their communities. Launched in September 2019, the Precision Public Health initiative builds off the Foundation’s legacy on Universal Health Coverage to ensure that communities everywhere receive the right care at the right time.

For decades, Dr. Rao has been a leader in equipping health care providers with the skills, tools, and technologies they need to succeed. He comes to the Foundation after a 25-year career with Merck & Co., Inc., where he most recently led Merck for Mothers, the company’s 10-year, $500 million initiative to reduce maternal mortality around the world. In this capacity, Dr. Rao was responsible for leveraging the company’s science and business expertise to accelerate progress in reaching the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and advancing the company’s mission to improve and save lives.

Prior to leading Merck for Mothers, Dr. Rao was Head of Medical Affairs for Merck’s Asia-Pacific region and Managing Director of Merck’s subsidiary in India.  Prior to joining Merck in 1993, he was the Associate Director of the Department of Medicine at Beekman-Downtown Hospital and practiced Internal Medicine in New York City for 10 years.

Dr. Rao is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Medic Mobile and represents The Rockefeller Foundation on the Private Foundation constituency of Global Fund ATM.

His passion is to harness data science to strengthen community health and end preventable mortality.

Authored Content

  • Nov 27 2019
    Blog Post Transforming Women’s Health Will Take Heightened Awareness and 21st Century Innovation Last month, I had the opportunity to join a passionate panel of advocates and experts at the inaugural TIME 100 Health Summit, to discuss both the strategy and urgency needed to transform women’s health. I walked away with the overarching feeling that our ability to improve women’s health outcomes depends on our will to do […]
  • Sep 25 2019
    Blog Post Precision Public Health: Leveraging Data to Unlock Health for All This week, as world leaders gather at the United Nations General Assembly to advance health for all, I can’t help but reflect on how far we’ve come, and how much we still must do. The Universal Health Coverage (UHC) movement – a movement that The Rockefeller Foundation championed from its inception – has seen unprecedented […]
  • Jun 28 2019
    Blog Post To Leverage Data for Health, Collaboration Is Key We live in a world steeped in predictive technologies – smart products and services use our data to guess movie selections, alert us before we’re out of groceries, and track our every heartbeat and step. These types of innovations have immense potential to tackle our global challenges in health – they could predict which mothers […]
  • Jan 07 2019
    Blog Post Women’s Leadership is a Powerful Catalyst for Better Health Does having women in positions of political leadership change how governments make policy on health and welfare? The latest research suggests there is a powerful correlation. According to an illuminating report by UNESCO, countries with a mandated minimum representation of women invest, on average, 3.4 percent more on health and welfare. That holds true across […]
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