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
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
Chan promised to use her influence with Beijing in the battle with avian
"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
Chan was also in charge when SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome)
spread through Hong Kong in 2003.
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