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World Health Organization (WHO) selects a new Director-General

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 22.5.2017 8.46 | Published in English on 23.5.2017 at 7.48
Press release 78

The seventieth World Health Assembly of WHO will be held in Geneva on 22–31 May.

The World Health Assembly will select a new Director-General for the organisation from among three nominees. The nominees are Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, former Minister of Health, from Ethiopia, David Nabarro, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Agenda for Sustainable Development, from Britain, and Sania Nishtar, former Minister of Health, from Pakistan.

Juha Rehula, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services, is heading the Finnish delegation to the Assembly. The World Health Organization is Finland’s most important international partner in issues regarding the development and assessment of health policy. WHO has supported Finland over the decades when the country has developed its health policy and health system. Finland has, in turn, offered its top expertise via WHO and helped in developing various sectors of health policy globally.  

“WHO has a unique role as the leader of health sector in international politics and in the UN system. The normative guidance and technological support given by the organisation, as well as the control of global health security, are very important for all member countries, says Minister Rehula.

WHO monitors the global health situation (for example pandemics), produces global health statistics regularly and updates the disease classification system as well as produces information on the different countries’ health policies and their results.

Sustainable health systems form the basis for sustainable development

The Assembly will handle, for example, implementation of the International Health Regulations IHR, WHO’s activities in emergency situations and in preventing contagious diseases and influenza pandemics, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Minister Rehula’s speech at the Assembly will deal with sustainable health systems.

President Tarja Halonen will also attend the World Health Assembly. She is a Co-chair of the high-level working group on Human Rights and Health between the WHO and the Human Rights Council. President Halonen will open an event where the report and recommendations of the working group will be published.

Permanent Secretary Päivi Sillanaukee will attend the meeting of the steering group for the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) in Geneva. Sillanaukee will also chair the meeting of JEE Alliance that promotes health security.

The Director-General of the WHO is appointed for a five-year term, and a new term will begin on 1 July 2017. The present Director-General Margaret Chan, from China, has led the organisation since 2006.


Satu Leino, Senior Officer, tel. +358 2951 63428

This is an English translation of a press release originally issued in Finnish on 22.5.2017

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