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      WHO's avian influenza tsar takes Director-General post

      The Lancet. Infectious Diseases

      Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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          Margaret Chan, WHO's former Special Representative of the Director General for Pandemic Influenza, will be the agency's next Director-General, it was revealed at the organisation's headquarters in Geneva on Nov 8. The decision of WHO's 34-member Executive Board to nominate Chan as their preferred candidate was confirmed by vote in a special 1-day World Health Assembly to be held at the UN building in Geneva, the Palais de Nations, on Nov 9. Of the 13 candidates originally in the running for the top WHO post, Chan, who was nominated by China, was among the favourites from the start. Despite rumours of a whispering campaign against her focusing on alleged failures during Hong Kong's reaction to severe acute respiratory syndrome, which Chan led as Director of Health in Hong Kong, Chan garnered the largest number of votes from WHO's Executive Board during the shortlisting process, which was finalised on Nov 6. Kazem Behbehani, a WHO Assistant Director General nominated by Kuwait, Julio Frenk, Mexico's health minister, Shigeru Omi, WHO's Asia Pacific Regional Director nominated by Japan, and Elena Salgado Méndez, Spanish health minister, were the other four candidates to make the shortlist. Chan is a popular appointment according to WHO insiders. She brings to the role an extensive knowledge of communicable diseases from her time as Assistant Director-General at WHO—a post she was appointed to by former Director-General Lee Jong-wook, amid rumours that China disapproved of the move. She is a medical doctor with a career in public health stretching back to 1978. However, she has been criticised by observers of the WHO Director-General election campaign for having only very limited experience of developing-country health systems. In a speech accepting her election, Chan pledged to continue Lee's work and articulated her commitment to WHO. “Rest assured that I will work tirelessly with my eyes on the goals we agreed on together, my ears open to the voices of all, and my heart committed to the populations of your countries”.

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          Author and article information

          Lancet Infect Dis
          Lancet Infect Dis
          The Lancet. Infectious Diseases
          Published by Elsevier Ltd.
          20 November 2006
          December 2006
          20 November 2006
          : 6
          : 12
          : 765
          © 2006

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          Infectious disease & Microbiology


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