ICMR chief Soumya Swaminathan appointed WHO deputy DG
Dr Soumya Swaminathan, director general of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), will be the deputy director-general, World Health Organization (WHO), in Geneva. This is the second-highest position at the UN’s health agency.
Currently, she also holds the post of secretary of the department of health research in India.
The new WHO leadership team was announced on Tuesday morning by the director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who was elected to the post in May 2017.
“The team represents 14 countries, including all WHO regions, and is more than 60% women, reflecting my deep-held belief that we need top talent, gender equity, and a geographically diverse set of perspectives to fulfill our mission to keep the world safe,” he said.
“Every WHO member state gets a chance to nominate a candidate for the deputy’s post and it was India’s turn this year. Dr Swaminathan was India’s nominee,” said a source in the Union health ministry who did not want to be named.
Dr Swaminathan will replace Dr Anarfi Asamoa-Baah from Ghana, who joined WHO as a senior policy adviser to the director-general and had served as the assistant director-general of the communicable disease programme and the HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria programme.
Dr Swaminathan, 58, is a paediatrician and clinical scientist. She is known for her work on tuberculosis. She did her MBBS and MD from the Armed Forces Medical College and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), respectively.
She is one of the three daughters of Dr MS Swaminathan, who is known as the father of green revolution in India. Her mother, Mina, is an educationist, and as chairperson of the study group on the development of pre-school children, had submitted a report that formed the basis of the Integrated Child Development Services.