Electing WHO's next leader

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7375.1251 (Published 30 November 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1251

The process is a secretive game of political favours that excludes the public

  1. Gavin Yamey, deputy physician editor, Best Treatments (gyamey@bmj.com),
  2. Kamran Abbasi, deputy editor (kabbasi@bmj.com)
  1. BMJ Unified, London WC1H 9JR
  2. BMJ, BMJ, London WC1H 9JR

    See also Education and debate p 1294 and News p 1259

    Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland promised greater transparency when she took charge of the World Health Organization in 1998.1 The secretive bureaucracy that she inherited would be banished, along with the memory of her ill perceived predecessor, Hiroshi Nakajima. Despite her best efforts, successes have not arrived in legions.2 United Nations organisations change direction with reluctance. Little wonder that Brundtland has relinquished a second term as director general.

    Nowhere will this inertia be more disturbing than in the selection of her successor from the 9 hopefuls who announced their candidacy last week (p 1259).3 WHO considers itself to be the world's ministry of health, and as such the world's six billion inhabitants, particularly those in low income countries, deserve better than seeing their “health minister” elected by a secret publicly unaccountable ballot of 32 faceless bureaucrats at next January's meeting of WHO's executive board. This powerful group is drawn from WHO's 192 member states, with national representatives serving their region on a rotational basis.

    The board will elect a …

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