World Health Assembly Elects 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 elected Margaret Chan, a former health director from Hong Kong and the agency's top infectious disease official, to be the organization's next director general, the Wall Street Journal reports (McKay, Wall Street Journal, 11/10). 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 is 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, which needed to vote by a two-thirds majority to approve Chan's nomination. Chan's term will run until July 2012. 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. Chan also has said that she will address women's health issues and the migration of skilled health care workers from developing countries (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/9). Chan in her acceptance speech pledged to focus her efforts on women worldwide and to improve health conditions for Africans, who "carry an enormous and disproportionate burden of ill health and premature death," she said (Xinhua/People's Daily Online, 11/10). Chan added, "Improvements in the health of the people of Africa and the health of women are key indicators of the performance of WHO" (Brown, Washington Post, 11/10). Anders Nordstrom will continue to serve as acting director general until Chan assumes office on Jan. 4, 2007 (Wall Street Journal, 11/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.