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[afro-nets] China's Chan takes over as chief of UN health body


  • From: "Leela McCullough" <leela@healthnet.org>
  • Date: Mon, 08 Jan 2007 10:46:22 -0500

China's Chan takes over as chief of UN health body
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04 Jan 2007 12:03:20 GMT
Source: Reuters

GENEVA, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Chinese bird flu expert Margaret Chan took over as head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) (http://www.who.int/en/) on Thursday and promised to put Africa and women at the top of her agenda.

Chan, the first Chinese to head a United Nations' agency, was chosen as director-general of the 192-state world health body last November in an election prompted by the death in office of her predecessor, Lee Jong-wook of South Korea.

"I want my leadership to be judged by the impact of our work on the health of two populations: women and the people of Africa," Chan said in a statement.

Women were particularly vulnerable to health problems because of the risks they face during pregnancy and childbirth and their low status in some countries, Chan said in a speech to WHO staff.

Africa was not only being ravaged by three big killers -- AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis -- but chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease were taking a rising toll.

Chan, 59, most recently the WHO's assistant director-general for communicable diseases, has said that the world needs to reinforce surveillance to ensure that new killer diseases, which she said would continue to emerge, were quickly detected.

The profile of the WHO, which has a two-year budget of $3.3 billion, has risen with the spread of AIDS and other diseases, and the emergence of new threats such as the respiratory illness SARS and bird flu.

Bird flu, which has ravaged poultry populations in southeast Asia, remains mostly an animal disease.

It has killed more than 150 people since late 2003 and experts fear that if it becomes more easily passed between humans it could trigger a pandemic in which millions of people could die.

--
Leela McCullough, Ed.D.
Director of Information Services

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