The Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded its 130th session in Geneva this Monday, January 23. In addition to discussing a series of key health issues, the board considered and approved the nomination of Dr. Margaret Chan for a second term as WHO Director-General, to begin on 1 July of this year. The board will present Dr. Chan’s nomination for approval by the 65th World Health Assembly, which will meet from 21 to 26 May 2012.
The Executive Board is composed of 34 individuals technically qualified in the field of health. Members are elected for three-year terms. The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Mirta Roses, is participating in the meeting with representatives of countries of the Americas who are serving on the Executive Board (Barbados, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and the United States).
The Executive Board also named Dr. Ala Alwan as the new WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, which is headquartered in Cairo. Dr. Alwan will take the place of Dr. Hussein Abdel-Razzak Al Gezairy, who held the post for 30 years. The Executive Board thanked Dr. Gezairy for his service over these years. Dr. Alwan, of Iraq, was until recently Assistant Director of WHO for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, and will take his new post on 1 Feb. 2012.
The agenda for the current Executive Board meeting covers subjects including prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, mental health, nutrition, monitoring of progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to health, and intensification of the global initiative to eradicate polio, among others.
The main functions of the Executive Board are to give effect to the decisions and policies of the World Health Assembly (WHA), to advise it and generally to facilitate its work. The board meets twice a year. In its main, January meeting, the board agrees on the agenda and proposed resolutions for the next WHA. In May, it meets immediately following the WHA to discuss mostly administrative matters.