Islamabad/Geneva: Pakistan has proposed former Health Minister Sania Nishtar, known for her bold and transformational leadership in health, for the post of Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Nishtar is one of only two women on the list to have been nominated for the post, for which six candidates are in the running.
WHO’s 194 member-states put forth the list of candidates to replace the incumbent Director General Margaret Chan, who will step down next June after 11 years in the role.
The other woman on the list is Flavia Bustreo, who was proposed by Italy and who is currently serving as WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Family, Women’s and Children’s Health.
Nishtar is founder and President of Heartfile, a health think-tank, and co-chair of the WHO’s commission on ending childhood obesity, reported Geo News.
The list of people to replace Chan includes former Health and Foreign minister of France Philippe Douste-Blazy, Foreign Minister and former Health Minister of Ethiopia Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and former Health Minister of Hungary Miklos Szocska.
Britain’s David Nabarro, a sustainable development adviser to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, completes the list of contenders.
WHO said a shortlist of three would be presented in May at the agency’s annual World Health Assembly, which will make the final appointment. The successful candidate will take office in July 2017.
Experts believe the nominees will face a tough task in proving to the international community that the WHO is still competent as an agency delivering global health, particularly given the criticism it received after 11,000 persons died during the Ebola outbreak in Africa.
“The next DG has a narrow window in which to change the narrative about the WHO,” The Guardian quoted Ashish Jha, Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute and co-author of a report calling for urgent reform within the agency, as saying.
“It has become an organisation that, when faced with real challenges, cannot perform,” Jha added.
The Director General is the WHO’s chief technical and administrative officer, and oversees the organisation’s international health work.
The WHO is a vast UN agency with an annual budget of $4.4 billion that is responsible for coordinating global emergencies and raising awareness about health issues from pollution to tropical diseases.