Unprecedented momentum for better health must not be compromised by financial crisis, she tells health ministers
23 May 2012 | Geneva – Today, the World Health Assembly appointed Dr Margaret Chan for a second five-year term as Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). In her acceptance speech to health ministers and representatives of WHO’s Member States, Dr Chan pledged her continued commitment to improve the health of the most vulnerable.
“In my view, universal coverage is the single most powerful concept that public health has to offer. It is a powerful equalizer,” said Dr Chan. “[It] is the best way to cement the gains made during the past decade.”
In addition she said that the biggest challenge over the next five years will be to lead WHO in ways that will help maintain the unprecedented momentum for better health that marked the start of this century.
“The future of funding for international health development is uncertain,” said Dr Chan. “If we let down our guard, slacken our efforts, problems that are so close to being brought under control will come roaring back.”
The Director-General is WHO's chief technical and administrative officer and oversees the policy for the Organization's international health work. Dr Chan's new term will begin on 1 July 2012 and continue until 30 June 2017.
Dr Chan, from the People’s Republic of China, joined WHO as Director of the Department for Protection of the Human Environment in 2003. In 2005, she was appointed Director of Communicable Diseases Surveillance and Response, as well as Representative of the Director-General for Pandemic Influenza. Later that year she was named Assistant Director-General for Communicable Diseases. In November 2006 she was elected to her first appointment as Director-General of WHO.
Before joining WHO, Dr Chan was Director of Health of Hong Kong. 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 to establish better local and international collaboration. She also effectively managed outbreaks of avian influenza and of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
Dr Chan obtained her medical degree from the University of Western Ontario in Canada.
Gregory Härtl: Telephone: +41 22 791 4458; Mobile: +41 79 203 6715; Email:
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