Chan wins WHO head job easily

Dr Margaret Chan, a former Hong Kong health official, has easily won the election for the position of director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Chan received 150 votes in a closed meeting of the 193-nation World Health Assembly, well above the two thirds majority she needed. Chan, who has been with the WHO since 2003, will sit in the role of director-general until June 2012.
In her position acceptance speech, Chan said her top goals will be to improve the health of Africans and of women around the world. She also told reporters she would set her Chinese nationality aside as she works to combat major threats such as avian flu.
Chan is the first Chinese to become the head of a major United Nations agency. China has been accused of being slow to share H5N1 avian flu data and virus samples, especially with regard to poultry outbreaks.
Chan promised to use her influence with Beijing in the battle with avian flu.
"Now I'm elected as the WHO's director-general I no longer carry my nationality on my sleeve. I leave it behind," she said.
"I will speak up if some member states need to strengthen their effort, and in this case if you are referring to China I will definitely speak out and urge China . . . to share information," she said.
As Hong Kong's director of health in 1997, Chan led efforts to stop the first major H5N1 outbreaks in poultry and the first human cases. Her decision to quickly slaughter all 1.5 million poultry in the district has been credited with stopping the outbreak and possibly preventing a major international health crisis.
Chan was also in charge when SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) spread through Hong Kong in 2003.

Editor WorldPoultry

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