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Dr Margaret Chan nominated to be WHO Director-General

Dr Margaret Chan of China was nominated today by the Executive Board of the World Health Organization for the post of Director-General. The Director-General is WHO's chief technical and administrative officer.

The nomination will be submitted to the World Health Assembly, which will meet for a one-day special session on Thursday, 9 November to appoint the next Director-General.

The procedures for the current nomination and election process were decided following the sudden death of Dr LEE Jong-wook, WHO Director-General, on 22 May 2006. At its meeting on 23 May, the WHO Executive Board agreed on an "accelerated process" for electing a Director-General.

On Monday the Executive Board, chaired by Dr Fernando Antezana Araníbar of Bolivia, selected a short list of five candidates. Yesterday the Board interviewed the five candidates and today selected Dr Margaret Chan as its nominee.

Dr Chan is a well-known public figure because of her record of leadership in fighting disease first in Hong Kong, and more recently at WHO. During her nine-year tenure as Director of Health, Dr Chan confronted the first human outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza in 1997 and successfully defeated Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Hong Kong in 2003. She also introduced primary health care 'from the diaper to the grave' with a focus on health promotion and disease prevention, self-care and healthy lifestyles. In 2003, she joined WHO and rose to the position of Representative of the Director-General for Pandemic Influenza as well as Assistant Director-General for Communicable Diseases. Now 59, Dr Chan obtained her Medical Degree from the University of Western Ontario in Canada and a public health degree from the National University of Singapore.

The WHO Executive Board is composed of 34 Members who are technically qualified in the field of health. The main functions of the Board are to give effect to the decisions and policies of the World Health Assembly, to advise it and generally to facilitate its work.

The countries represented on the current Executive Board are: Afghanistan, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Denmark, Djibouti, El Salvador, Iraq, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Mexico, Namibia, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Singapore, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Tonga, Thailand, Turkey and the United States of America.

Dr Anders Nordström, appointed by the Executive Board as Acting Director-General of WHO in May, will continue in this role until a new Director-General takes office.

For more information contact:

Christine McNab
Acting-Director, WHO Communications Department
Telephone: +41 22 791 4688
Mobile phone: +41 79 254 6815
E-mail: mcnabc@who.int

Iain Simpson
Team leader, News and Advocacy
WHO, Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 3215
Mobile phone: +41 79 254 3215
E-mail: simpsoni@who.int

Fadéla Chaib
Communications Officer
WHO, Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 3228
Mobile phone: +41 79 475 5556
E-mail: chaibf@who.int

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