Who's using whom?

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 16 November 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:1040
  1. Anne Glusker
  1. 1Geneva

    Will China gain influence from having one of its people at the head of WHO or will the winner be WHO itself as China becomes more engaged in fighting infectious disease? Anne Glusker reports

    Dr Margaret Chan of China was elected last week to be the new director general of the World Health Organization. Chan, 59, a former public health minister of Hong Kong and, most recently, chief technical and administrative officer at WHO, won after rounds of secret balloting at the organisation's headquarters reduced the original field of 13 candidates to a shortlist of five and then to one opponent, Julio Frenk of Mexico. Chan won convincingly, with two thirds of the vote, the culmination of a campaign season marked by allegations of influence peddling.

    Two main and interrelated questions shadowed Chan's campaign and will be the backdrop against which critics will watch her tenure unfold. One concerns her handling of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and avian flu epidemics while she was Hong Kong public health minister; the other question involves her relationship with China.

    Although some people believe that having Chan at the head of WHO will more fully integrate China into the world health community, making it more cooperative in future disease outbreaks; others scorn that notion, saying that China is using WHO strategically …

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