Her election at the World Health Assembly in Geneva in May is only a formality.
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
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.Her election at the World Health Assembly in Geneva in May is only a formality.RELATED:WHO: Smoking could kill 8 million people a year by 2030 When confirmed for the post, Chan will begin a new term on July 1 and continue until the end of June 2017.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 Israelis.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 WHO.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 state.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 international collaboration.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 communicable diseases.
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