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WHO's new Director General: Dr Margaret Chan

On 9 November Dr Margaret Chan was appointed Director-General of the World Health Organisation.

Dr Chan was nominated as Director-General on Wednesday by the WHO Executive Board and her appointment was confirmed on Thursday by the World Health Assembly.

The Director-General is WHO's chief technical and administrative officer. Previously, Dr Chan was WHO Assistant Director-General for Communicable Diseases and Representative of the Director-General for Pandemic Influenza. Prior to joining WHO, she was Director of Health in Hong Kong. During her nine-year tenure as director, Dr Chan confronted the first human outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza in 1997 and successfully defeated Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Hong Kong in 2003. She also launched new services to prevent disease and promote better health.

After her appointment, she told the World Health Assembly she wanted to be judged by the impact WHO's work has on the people of Africa and on women across the globe. Dr Chan told the Assembly that as Director-General she would focus on six key issues for WHO: health development, security, capacity, information and knowledge, partnership, and performance. Read more

On alcohol she has said “Another impediment to development arises from the growing burden of chronic diseases in developing countries, a burden measured in high health care costs as well as impaired health. Factors related to unhealthy diets, tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity and stress contribute to this problem, reinforcing the urgent need for a preventive approach based on health-promoting strategies. In this case, the duty of public health is to make healthy choices the easy choices for individuals and communities”.

About the candidate:

Dr Chan's priorities for WHO

Speech to the World Health Assembly