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WHO 70th Assembly votes on new chief and tackles Zika crisis

May 22, 2017 - SWITZERLAND

The World Health Organization votes for a new director-general at its 70th Assembly in Geneva, a meeting that will be searching for answers to the agency's newest global public health emergency, the Zika virus.

The Assembly elected Margaret Chan to a second five-year term at its 65th session in May 2012. The 194 member states will select Chan's replacement from the list of finalists submitted by the WHO executive board.

Reuters reports that the six candidates to replace Chan, whose tenure ends on Jun 30, are: Britain's David Nabarro, UN special envoy for Ebola during the crisis in 2014-15; Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former health minister; former Pakistan minister Sania Nishtar; French former health minister Philippe Douste-Blazy; Italy's Flavia Bustreo, who is an assistant director-general at the agency; and a former health minister of Hungary, Miklós Szócska.

Chan has come under fire for the agency's slow response to the Ebola epidemic which raged through West Africa in 2014-15, killing more than 11,300 people.

The World Health Organization has declared Zika and its associated congenital and other neurological disorders "a Public Health Emergency of International Concern."
The infection has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains.

Six in the running to be next World Health Organization leader

Zika virus media centre: news, features, and multimedia (WHO)

Date written/update: 2016-09-28