World news story

UK choice for World Health Organisation chief visits India

Dr David Nabarro is one of the final three candidates in the running for Director General of the World Health Organisation.

Dr David Nabarro

At the end of May health ministers of 194 nations will meet for their annual assembly. They will elect the person who will – on 1 July - replace Dr Margaret Chan as the next Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

It is a serious job about the health and wellbeing of billions of people. Dr David Nabarro is one of the final three candidates in the running and he is in India to meet with senior ministers setting out how his vision for an upgraded, transformed, WHO will benefit the country.

Speaking ahead of his visit Dr Nabarro said:

I am delighted to be visiting India to hear more about how the WHO can support Government of India to improve the lives of Indian people across this great country.

Between 1992 and 1995 I worked with several inspiring Indian health pioneers in what was then known as Odisha. Alongside this I was heavily involved in supporting health care for women within ‘Amul’ producing dairy cooperatives in Gujarat.

Our world faces many challenges including climate change, widespread poverty and conflict as well as the threat of infections such as Tuberculosis becoming more resistant to available medicines. And in India today, cases of non-communicable or ‘lifestyle’ diseases such as diabetes and heart disease are rising, while tuberculosis and malaria remain especially prevalent among poorer communities.

The WHO is vital to help meet these challenges, but it urgently needs an upgrade. I will rapidly transform how the WHO responds to disease outbreaks and I will prioritise support for lifestyle related diseases. At the heart of my vision is an organisation that ensures people, especially women and children, get the health care they need, when they need it.

Dr Nabarro has the full support of the UK government because his experience is unrivalled - he has spent over 40 years in international public health as a medical doctor, educator, international public servant and diplomat. He has repeatedly and successfully managed complex global challenges and led the world in responding to crises.

He has worked on the frontline, in over 50 countries including India, Nepal and Bangladesh. He has also spent 15 years getting to grips with the intricacies of the UN and global health systems, working on Ebola, bird flu, cholera and nutrition.

British High Commissioner to India, Sir Dominic Asquith said:

Dr. Nabarro is the best choice for WHO as its next Director General. With his strong, unmatched credentials and experience of leading Global Britain’s responses to medical crises in the recent past, he is best placed to lead the organisation as newer challenges arise.

UK and India have a thriving science and innovation relationship which is further enhanced by the Newton-Bhabha Fund. Under Newton-Bhabha we are working together to address key global challenges like public health and wellbeing which supports UK-India collaborations tackling areas such as Anti-Microbial Resistance, maternal and child health and air pollution and human health.

Further information

The Newton Fund builds research and innovation partnerships with 16 partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. It has a total UK government investment of £735 million up until 2021, with matched resources from the partner countries.

The Newton Fund is managed by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and delivered through 15 UK delivery partners, which include the Research Councils, the UK academies, the British Council, Innovate UK and the Met Office.

In India, it is known as the Newton-Bhabha Fund in partnership with the Government of India.

For more information about Dr Nabarro please visit website or follow on Twitter @davidnabarro #Nabarro4DG


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Stuart Adam, Head,
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British High Commission,
Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110021
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Published 7 March 2017