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Dr Uton Muchtar Rafei was born in Bandung, Indonesia, and has been the regional director of the WHO's South East Asia region since 1994

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7124.7l (Published 03 January 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:7
  1. Fiona Godlee

    What do you see as the major health challenges of the next five years, and how should the WHO address them?

    There are of course the ongoing challenges of tackling the disease burden, and ensuring health care for all. In addition, it is imperative that, on the one hand, health is placed at the centre of development by all nations, and, on the other, we are able to reduce disparities in people's access to health. This is specially so for the poor, women, and other vulnerable groups. Conditions have to be created that promote health and also increase the capacity of people to deal with their own problems. All this must be attained while upholding and enforcing health ethics, particularly in relation to technology development to enable it to serve better the needs of both the poor and the developed countries.

    These challenges can be addressed only if health is backed by political will and if there is a national and global consensus for action. Now is also the time to project women as leaders, particularly in health promotion and development, so that they are empowered to take decisions on key issues such as reproductive health and nutrition.

    Should the WHO be addressing the effects of socioeconomic factors in health, and if so, how?

    The WHO ignores the impact on health of socioeconomic …

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