World news story

UK choice for World Health Organisation Director-General visits China

Dr Nabarro will meet Vice Minister Cui Li from the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

UK choice for World Health Organisation Director-General visits China
UK choice for World Health Organisation Director-General visits China

At the end of May health ministers from around the world will meet for their annual assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. They will elect the person who will – on July 1st – replace Dr Margaret Chan as the next Director-General of the World Health Organization (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. He is in China to meet with senior Ministers setting out how his vision for an upgraded, reformed, WHO will benefit China and the world.

Dr Nabarro will meet Vice Minister Cui Li from the National Health and Family Planning Commission. He will also visit a Da Shila Community Health Centre in Beijing to meet health providers at the local level and see firsthand China’s efforts to develop its primary health service. Dr Nabarro will also give a speech at Tsinghua University to staff and students on ‘Health in the Sustainable Development Goals-era: Putting people at the centre’.

Speaking ahead of his visit Dr Nabarro said:

I am delighted to be visiting China to hear more about how the WHO can improve the lives of Chinese people– and how China can share its lessons with developing countries across the world.

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 China today, cases of non-communicable or ‘lifestyle’ diseases such as diabetes and heart disease are rising. It is vital that we take early, preventative action to ensure that, where possible children are living active, healthy lives reducing the risk of these diseases later in life.

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 many along the Belt and Road, such as India, Nepal, Indonesia 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 Ambassador, Dame Barbara Woodward DCMG OBE, said:

David Nabarro’s breadth of experience makes him uniquely qualified to ensure that the WHO is equipped to face the challenges of the next decade. He is the right candidate at the right time, seeking to help improve the lives of people all over the world.

For further information on Dr Nabarro and his campaign, please visit

Published 12 May 2017