Sania Nishtar

Founder and President, Heartfile

Sania Nishtar graduated from medical school in 1986 with 16 gold medals, a college record, which remains unbroken. In 1999 she left a lucrative career as Pakistan’s first woman cardiologist to establish the NGO think-tank, Heartfile which is the most powerful health policy voice and catalyst for health reform in Pakistan. She is the founder of many other health institutions including Pakistan’s Health Policy Forum and Heartfile Financing, an innovative health systems model for mixed health systems. In 2013 she served as a Federal Minister in Pakistan’s Interim Government, where she held four portfolios and was instrumental in establishing Pakistan’s Ministry of Health.

Dr. Nishtar has in-country and international experience. She is a member of several Expert Working Groups and Task Forces of the World Health Organization and is co-chair of the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity.  She is also a member of the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum. She has previously served as a member on the boards of the International Union for Health Promotion, the World Heart Federation, WHO’s Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, the Aspen Institute’s Ministerial Leadership Initiative for Global Health, as Chair of GAVI’s Evaluation Advisory Committee and as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. She also led the Pakistan Lancet Series on Health Reform. She has previously headed many global initiatives, including the award-winning Global World Heart Day campaign. She is a regular plenary speaker, chair or moderator at global health meetings and a part of organizing major international conferences. She has chaired or been part of many international declarations and statements of the World Health Organization.

Dr. Nishtar is a key health policy voice in Pakistan. She is the author of Pakistan’s first compendium of health statistics, and the country’s first national public health plan for NCDs. One of her books, Choked Pipes, an analysis of Pakistan’s health systems, is widely recognized as a call for reform. She is a member of many boards, advisory groups and task forces and is a voice to catalyze change at the broader governance level in Pakistan.

Dr. Nishtar is the author of six books and more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and op-eds. She is the recipient of Pakistan’s Sitara e-Imtiaz, a presidential award, the European Societies Population Science Award, and many accolades of the International Biographical Centre, Cambridge and the American Biographical Center. In 2011 she received the prestigious Global Innovation award, which was given only to four individuals, one of them being President Bill Clinton. Sania Nishtar holds a Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians and a Ph.D. from Kings College, London.