World Health Assembly Scheduled To Vote Thursday on Nomination of Former Hong Kong Health Director Chan as WHO Director General
The World Health Organization's World Health Assembly on Thursday at a one-day special session is expected to elect Margaret Chan, a former health director from Hong Kong and the agency's top infectious disease official, as the organization's next director general, the New York Times reports (Altman, New York Times 11/9). WHO's executive board on Wednesday nominated Chan for the position of director general to replace Lee Jong-wook, according to diplomats. Lee died in May, two years before his term ended. Chan would be the first Chinese national to be selected for a prominent U.N. post, according to delegates. The 34-member board's nomination was submitted to the World Health Assembly to make a decision about whether to appoint Chan. The assembly needs to vote by a two-thirds majority to approve Chan's nomination. The World Health Assembly has never rejected a director general nominee proposed by the executive board. If appointed, Chan's term would run until July 2012. Anders Nordstrom will continue to serve as acting director general until a candidate is selected. During her campaign for WHO director general, Chan -- who has worked at WHO since 2003 -- said that if she were selected, she would focus on diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/8). Chan also has said that if elected, she will address women's health issues and the migration of skilled health care workers from developing countries (New York Times, 11/9). "This is a moment of personal honor and deep personal responsibility," Chan said on Wednesday, adding, "I do not take this lightly" (McKay, Wall Street Journal, 11/9).
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Thursday reported on Chan's nomination. The segment includes comments from Chan; Nils Daulaire, CEO of the Global Health Council; and Robert Webster, a virologist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (Wilson, "Morning Edition," NPR, 11/9). Audio of the segment is available online.