A time to ask what you want of WHO

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 10 July 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:111
  1. Keith Baverstock, docent (
  1. department of environmental sciences, University of Kuopio, Finland

    Five years ago Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland took over a largely demoralised World Health Organization from Hiroshi Nakajima and initiated a reform to give WHO new relevance to current public health needs. Technical staff warmly welcomed the strong emphasis she placed on evidence based advocacy, openness and transparency, and unity within the organisation.

    Last year it became clear that Dr Brundtland would not seek a second term and on 21 July Jong-Wook Lee will succeed her as director general. However, Dr Lee is not inheriting a reinvigorated organisation or one that is close to achieving the three overarching principles instigated by the Brundtland reform.

    Dr Brundtland did succeed in getting health recognised as an issue on the global political agenda and in drawing attention to the economically debilitating effects of ill health. However, this gain may have been achieved at the expense of other priorities.

    Many of the public health issues that face us today are not controversial. There are no …

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