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Six in the running to be next World Health Organization leader

Image: U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Ebola David Nabarro addresses the media on World Health Organization (WHO)’s health emergency preparedness and response capacities in Geneva, Switzerland, July 31, 2015. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy

By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) – Six international health experts, including four from Europe, are to compete to become the next director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) after its current leader Margaret Chan ends her tenure next June.

Nominations for the position, announced on Friday, include Britain’s David Nabarro – who was the United Nations’ special envoy for Ebola during the crisis in 2014/15 – and Ethiopia’s foreign minister and former health minister, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Also nominated are Sania Nishtar, a former minister in Pakistan’s government; the French former health minister Philippe Douste-Blazy; Italy’s Flavia Bustreo – currently an assistant director general at the WHO; and a former health minister of Hungary, Miklós Szócska.

In a statement the Geneva-based WHO described the director-general’s position as that of a “chief technical and administrative officer” who oversees the agency’s international health work.

Chan, who was appointed in 2006, has come under fire for the WHO’s slow response to the deadly Ebola epidemic which raged through West Africa in 2014/15, killing more than 11,300 people.

She will step down on June 30, 2017, making way for the new director general to take over.

The WHO’s election process states that by January 2017, the agency’s executive board will shortlist a maximum of five candidates.

They will be interviewed by the board, which will nominate up to three to go forward to the World Health Assembly in May 2017, where the WHO’s 194 member states vote for a winner.

(Editing by Richard Balmforth)

Copyright 2016 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.



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