Closing remarks of the Acting Director-General

Executive Board at its 118th session
31 May 2006

Mr Chairman, Members of the Executive Board, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you. Perhaps, with such an efficient chairman, we should have a longer agenda next time. In that way we can make even greater progress. Dr Antezana, I would like to thank and congratulate you for your excellent chairing. We have benefited from your long experience in the Organization; your knowledge of procedures as well as of the technical content of the work. As the delegate of Namibia noted, the Board has highly appreciated this, as has the Secretariat.

This Board has continued in the same spirit as we have seen for many years, with effective dialogue bringing good solutions. This is the hallmark of WHO's governing bodies. I think we can be proud of having such effective governance in the Organization.

One of Dr Lee's last actions was to invite the High-Level Panel on United Nations System-wide Coherence, to come to Geneva and consult with the Geneva-based secretariat of the UN organizations here. I am very happy that WHO is going to host that meeting with the Panel here, on Saturday. We will share our experience of what makes an effective UN. We are very committed to that. We are also very proud of this Organization, and the fact that we have effective governance which allows us to deliver strongly on the ground.

We have seen some useful progress during this session of the Executive Board, in terms of preparing resolutions for the coming World Health Assembly. A couple of highlights for me were: the discussions around thalassaemia, and around health information systems relating to the Millennium Development Goals. The discussion that started on rational use of drugs is also very important for the Organization. This area is central to our work and progress needs to continue. From the management side I was very pleased that a decision was reached on Strategic resource allocation, and on the validation mechanism. This will be an important instrument in our results-based management system. I was also very happy to receive your support for contract reform. We will now work on the details of implementation and return to this with the Programme, Budget and Administration Committee at the January 2007 session of the Executive Board.

Central to this session was agreement on a clear process for the election of the next Director-General. I was very pleased that you were able to come to a quick decision. I will do my best in support of this.

I thank you for the confidence you have shown in me as your Acting Director-General through these next months. My commitment is to continue to deliver our technical programmes. We have had a number of discussions already during these last few days which will support the way we move ahead - for example, in terms of the International Health Regulations.

I would like finally to mention one very specific instance where we have moved quickly: the situation in Indonesia. Our thoughts and our condolences are with the affected families. Many people have died, many people have lost their homes. I can report to you that our Regional Office in South-East Asia, together with headquarters, has been able to react very quickly. WHO was part of the assessment mission launched just three hours after the event. We have two epidemiologists working on surveillance, deployed in Jakarta, and drugs for 50 000 people have already arrived. We have provided technical support in the area of mental health, and measles campaigns will start in the next two to three days. It was a tragic event, but WHO has been able to respond effectively.

Thank you very much, and I look forward to seeing you at the next session of the Executive Board.