The new WHO cabinet looks refreshingly different

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 22 August 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:492

The top ranks of the World Health Organisation look dramatically different since Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland swept into office on 21 July, writes Adrea Mach

The average age of WHO's new cabinet has dropped by almost a decade, from 59.2 to 49.9 years. Not that “youth” in itself is a solution to the problems that Dr Brundtland has inherited. But the new cabinet provides a welcome infusion of energy, skills, and diversity, which seems to be reviving a latent innovative spirit throughout the organisation. The new team was chosen with an eye to technical skills, a broad perspective, and team spirit. Of the 10 cabinet members, eight come from outside the WHO and six are women. Members are evenly split between the North and the South, and all of the WHO's six regions are represented. Many of the external recruits have come to the WHO from positions with more people, pay, and power in order to participate in this experiment of renewal. The motivation? In a word, Brundtland.

Ambassador Jonas Gahr Store: head of the office of the director general

Mr Store, who is 38, is a young yet experienced career diplomat from Norway.”Running an executive office is not new to me, nor is the WHO very different in size and management style from Norway's central administration,” said Store who, as former head of the international department of the prime minister's office in Oslo, has worked closely with Dr Brundtland for almost a decade. “The field of health is new to me; but I trust the good technical people and just focus on the political process and diplomatic challenge of putting health on the political agenda.”

The director general's office coordinates the pace of change. Deliberately devoid of technical functions except for the media, its role is to give general policy advice. “The key messenger of this organisation is the director general–and Dr Brundtland is a very good messenger. Our role is to support her.” …

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