Geneva: The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Tuesday (January 23) the appointment of three new regional directors for Southeast Asia, Eastern Mediterranean and Western Pacific. The appointments were confirmed by the WHO Executive Board, following the nomination of the regional committees. The new regional directors will serve a five-year term starting from February 1, 2024.
The new regional directors are:
- Ms Saima Wazed, Regional Director for South-East Asia. Ms Wazed is the daughter of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and a prominent autism activist. She has a background in clinical psychology and organizational leadership and has served as an advisor to the WHO Director-General on mental health and autism. She will lead the WHO’s work in 11 countries with more than 2 billion people from the regional office in New Delhi, India.
- Dr Hanan Hassan Balkhy, Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean. Dr Balkhy is a Saudi physician and the first Assistant Director of Antimicrobial Resistance at the WHO. She has over two decades of experience in the field of infectious diseases and infection prevention and control and has over 200 publications. She is a member of several WHO committees related to antimicrobial resistance and a fellow of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. She will oversee the WHO’s work in 22 countries with more than 600 million people from the regional office in Cairo, Egypt.
- Dr Saia Ma’u Piukala, Regional Director for the Western Pacific. Dr. Piukala is a Tongan politician, public health leader, and surgeon. He is the first Pacific islander to become a regional director. He has nearly 30 years of experience working in Tonga and across the Pacific and has been a champion of multisectoral collaboration to tackle noncommunicable diseases and health threats posed by climate change. He has led initiatives to achieve universal health coverage and address emerging infectious diseases. He will direct the WHO’s work in 37 countries and areas with more than 1.9 billion people from the regional office in Manila, Philippines.
WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus congratulated the three regional directors and expressed his confidence in their leadership. He said, “I congratulate our three new Regional Directors on their appointments. I wish them all the best in their new roles and look forward to working with them to advance our mission to achieve health for all.”