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Margaret Chan to lead WHO for five more years

Sees funding for international health development as biggest challenge

Dr Margaret Chan - director general, WHOThe World Health Assembly has appointed Dr Margaret Chan as director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) for a second term, extending her role to June 30, 2017.

She has been in the position since 2006, and faced an eventful first term heading the UN agency to improve public health during both the avian influenza outbreak and the swine flu pandemic of 2009.

The latter incident led to Dr Chan and the WHO coming under fire from critics who claimed they had received advice from an influenza expert receiving payments from Tamiflu makers Roche and overstated the potential impact of the H1N1 virus.

At the time, Dr Chan argued that “decisions to raise the level of pandemic alert were based on clearly defined virological and epidemiological criteria”.

In her acceptance speech for her second term in office she said the biggest challenge for the WHO during the next five years will be to maintain both the financial and practical interest in better global health that has been seen in the early part of the 21st century.

“The future of funding for international health development is uncertain,” she said. “If we let down our guard, slacken our efforts, problems that are so close to being brought under control will come roaring back.”

Dr Chan joined the WHO as director of the department for protection of the human environment in 2003, before becoming director of communicable diseases surveillance and response, as well as representative of the director-general for pandemic influenza in 2005.

She was then elected to her first term as director-general of the agency in 2006.

Before joining WHO, Dr Chan was director of health for Hong Kong, where her achievements included the introduction of initiatives to improve communicable disease surveillance and response, enhanced training for public health professionals and improved local and international collaboration.

1st June 2012

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