Head of the Convention Secretariat WHO FCTC Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, MD PhD

Dr da Costa e Silva is medical doctor, with a PhD in Public Health and Epidemiology and a Master’s degree in Business Administration for the Health Sector.

She was appointed Head of Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the UN’s tobacco control treaty, in June 2014. She directs support for the Parties to the Convention, so enabling them to implement their obligations under the treaty. She also supervises arrangements for the Convention’s Conference of the Parties (COP) and translates the decisions taken into programme activities.

Under her leadership, the Secretariat has overseen the Convention’s integration into far-reaching global agreements: these include strengthened WHO FCTC implementation among the health targets in the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, and using the Convention as a means to enact Financing for Development (FfD). Dr da Costa e Silva has pursued an “open door policy” to Parties’ seeking assistance to apply treaty provisions, and has actively promoted robust countermeasures to prevent tobacco industry interference at the national, regional and global levels. She has also encouraged broader representation among COP observers (both intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations), which has assisted the Convention Secretariat’s work, and a fundraising strategy to underpin progress in implementing the treaty.

Over the past two decades, Dr da Costa e Silva has worked around the world, engaging in tobacco control activities in many countries and publishing numerous academic articles.

Between 2006 and 2014, Dr da Costa e Silva worked as a senior public health consultant to WHO and to the Secretariat of the WHO FCTC. She has also worked as a professor at the National Public Health School (ENSP/FIOCRUZ) in Rio de Janeiro and as Tobacco Control and Consumers’ Health team leader at the Pan American Health Organization in Washington DC.

In 2013 she was the founder and the first coordinator of the Centre for Studies on Tobacco and Health, within the National Public Health School of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, in Brazil.

From 2001 to 2005, she was director of the Tobacco Free Initiative at the World Health Organization in Geneva, supervising WHO’s global tobacco control agenda and the work of the Interim Secretariat of the WHO FCTC.

For 16 years, Dr da Costa e Silva coordinated the department of epidemiology and cancer prevention at Brazil’s National Cancer Institute, where she was involved in legislative, economic and disease surveillance activities, as well as regulatory cancer prevention measures with an emphasis on tobacco control, the establishment of a countrywide network for NCD control and the introduction of tobacco product regulation as part of the health regulatory agency.