WHO director Dr. Margaret Chan_311.
(photo credit: WHO)
Dr. Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organization since
2006, has been nominated for a second term by the WHO’s executive board. She was
the only candidate for the job.
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Her election at the World Health Assembly
in Geneva in May is only a formality.
When confirmed for the post, Chan
will begin a new term on July 1 and continue until the end of June
Chan was widely criticized in 2009 for the WHO’s failure to control
H1N1 avian flu before it spread from Southeast Asia and killed some 17,000
around the world. It was also implicated in the deaths of some
Chan, an expert in infectious diseases, was born in the
People’s Republic of China, studied medicine at Canada’s University of Western
Ontario and then joined the Hong Kong department of health in 1978 and the UN
organization in 2003.
Early in her first term, the 64-year-old physician
told The Jerusalem Post
in Geneva that she respected Israelis for their
expertise in public health and invited more of them to contribute their
professional skills to the WHO.
But there remains only a handful of
Israeli professionals willing to leave their careers and work abroad for the
Israel has long been part of the European division of the WHO rather
than the Eastern Mediterranean division it had previously joined, because it
consists mostly of Arab countries that were hostile to the Jewish
In her nine-year tenure as director, she launched new services to
prevent the spread of disease and promote better health. She also introduced new
initiatives to improve communicable disease surveillance and response, enhance
training for public-health professionals and establish better local and
She managed outbreaks of avian influenza and
of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
In 2003, she became director
of the WHO’s department for protection of the human environment. In June 2005,
she was appointed director of communicable diseases surveillance and response as
well as representative of the director-general for pandemic influenza. Her last
job before heading the organization was assistant director-general for