WHO Plans To Elect New Director General This Week
The World Health Organization this week plans to elect a new director general to replace Lee Jong-wook -- who died in May, two years before his term ended -- the Washington Post reports (Brown, Washington Post, 11/5). The 11 candidates on Monday are expected to be narrowed down to five (Waddington, Reuters, 11/3). WHO's executive board -- which includes 34 members from different countries -- by Wednesday will vote by secret ballot to narrow the candidates to one nominee, whom they will present to WHO-member countries on Thursday to be ratified or rejected (Washington Post, 11/5). The WHO director general position is "one of the most important leadership positions in global public health," and "international politics will play nearly as big a role in deciding the winner as professional credentials," according to the Wall Street Journal. Leading candidates for the post appear to be Margaret Chan, a former health director from Hong Kong and WHO's top infectious disease official, and Mexican Health Minister Julio Frenk, the Journal reports (McKay, Wall Street Journal, 11/6). Shigeru Omi, WHO's regional director for the Western Pacific, also is considered a leading candidate, according to the Post (Washington Post, 11/5). The remaining candidates are Kazem Behbehani, the agency's deputy director; David Gunnarsson, Iceland's minister of health; Nay Htun, a diplomat from Myanmar; Bernard Kouchner, former health minister of France and founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres; Pascoal Mocumbi, former prime minister of Mozambique; Pekka Puska, director general of Finland's National Public Health Institute; Spanish Health Minister Elena Salgado Mendez; and Tomris Turmen, head of WHO's family and community health division (Reuters, 11/3).
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Monday reported on WHO's search for a new director general. The segment includes comments from Nils Daulaire, CEO of the Global Health Council; Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Jim Yong Kim, chief of the Department of Social Medicine and Health Inequalities at Brigham and Women's Hospital (Wilson, "Morning Edition," NPR, 11/6). Audio of the segment is available online.