|Press Release WHO/3
26 January 1999
WHO APPOINTS ONE NEW REGIONAL DIRECTOR & RE-APPOINTS TWO OTHERS
The World Health Organization's Executive Board appointed today in Geneva Dr Shigeru Omi, of Japan, as Regional Director of the World Health Organization for the Western Pacific. The Board has also reappointed Sir George Alleyne, of Barbados, as Regional Director for the Americas and Dr Uton Muchtar Rafei, of Indonesia, as Regional Director for the South-East Asia Region.
Dr Omi was nominated by the Regional Committee for the Western Pacific in a private meeting held in Manila on 14 September 1998. Now that his nomination has been confirmed by the Executive Board, he is expected to take up his new post in February 1999. He will take over from Dr Sang Tae Han of the Republic of Korea, who held the post for ten years.
He plans to carry on the legacy of Dr Han, promoting positive health, which emphasizes preventive rather than curative methods. Dr Omi will bring about necessary reforms within the Organization so that WHO can meet ever changing needs of the Member States in a more timely manner.
Dr Omi holds an MD and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology of Hepatitis B Virus from Division of Immunology at the Jichi Medical School in Japan.
In 1978, as a medical officer of the Bureau of Public Health, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Dr Omi worked in Japan's remote islands to promote health at community level. In 1986, he became a researcher in molecular biology of Hepatitis B virus at the Jichi Medical School. In 1989, he was the Deputy Director of the Division of Medical Economics, Bureau of Health Insurance in the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Japan, providing technical guidance and supervision to local hospital authorities.
His work for the WHO Western Pacific Region began in 1990, when he was appointed Medical Officer in the Expanded Programme on Immunization. Since then he has been involved in the Region's efforts to eradicate poliomyelitis. He served as Regional Advisor in the Expanded Programme on Immunization from 1993 until his appointment as Director, Division of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control in 1995. In April 1997, he resigned from WHO and became professor of public health at Jichi Medical School, his alma mater.
Sir George Alleyne was first appointed Regional Director for the Americas in January 1995. Today, the Board decided to reappoint him for another five-year term of office.
Born in St Philip, Barbados in 1932, Sir George is a graduate of the University of the West Indies where he was appointed Professor and later Chairman of the Department of Medicine. He joined WHO/PAHO in 1981 and successively served as Chief of the Research Unit, Director of Health Programmes Development and, since 1990, as Assistant Director supervising, among other duties, Organization's field offices and technical cooperation with Member States.
Dr Uton Muchtar Rafei, of Indonesia, has been reappointed today by the Board for a second five-year term of office as Regional Director for the WHO South-East Asia Region.
Dr Uton obtained his M.D. in 1963 at Airlangga University in Indonesia. He joined WHO in 1981. Dr Uton was Director, Health System Infrastructure, in WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia from1988 to 1994. In January 1994, the WHO Executive Board appointed Dr Uton as Regional Director for South-East Asia.
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