Intended for healthcare professionals


Lee Jong-wook

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 01 June 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1337

Director general of the World Health Organization

As director general of the World Health Organization Dr Lee Jong-wook continued the revival of the agency begun by his predecessor, Gro Harlem Brundtland. Having taken over from the formidable Norwegian in 2003, Dr Lee continued to push health to the top of the global political agenda, winning plaudits for his style, which was based on action not words.

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He entered office as the threat of severe acute respiratory syndrome was subsiding, and it was bird flu—a pandemic that has yet to emerge—that was to dominate much of his time as leader of WHO. However, in the long term it is likely to be his bold, if ultimately unattainable, pledges on HIV treatment that will be remembered.

Apart from his expertise in public health Dr Lee was a consummate politician—a characteristic that raised a few eyebrows at the time of his candidature. A number of health experts remarked that Dr Lee had acted more like a politician than a scientist in his extensive lobbying for the top job. As part of his strategy to get elected he persuaded more than …

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