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Women and Africa top priorities for WHO

The new WHO head will focus on six key issues - health development, security, capacity, information and knowledge, partnership, and performance.

india Updated: Nov 10, 2006 11:55 IST

The new head of the World Health Organisation Margaret Chan wants to put the interests of the people of Africa and women across the globe on top of her agenda.

Bird flu expert and former Hong Kong director of health, Chan was formally confirmed as the new WHO director-general on Thursday by the World Health Assembly of 193 member states.

After her election, she told the assembly she wanted to be judged by the impact WHO's work has on the people of Africa and on women across the globe.

"What matters most to me is people. And two specific groups of people in particular. I want to be judged by the impact on the health of the people of Africa, and the health of women," said Chan.

"Improvements in the health of the people of Africa and the health of women are key indicators of the performance of WHO.

"This is a health organisation for the whole world. Our work must touch on the lives of everyone, everywhere. But we must focus our attention on the people in greatest need."

She paid a tribute to her predecessor, Lee Jong-wook, who died suddenly in May, and told the assembly she intended using her five-year term as director-general to focus on six key issues - health development, security, capacity, information and knowledge, partnership, and performance.

She has managed major health crises during her career in public health including the world's first outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Avian flu.

She joined WHO and became chief technical and administrative officer after working previously as assistant director-general for communicable diseases.