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Liya Kebede re-appointed Goodwill Ambassador

Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General today re-appointed top Ethiopian fashion model Liya Kebede as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health after a successful first two years in the role. Liya was initially appointed in advance of World Health Day 2005, which focused on the health of mothers and their children.

As WHO Goodwill Ambassador, Liya will continue to highlight the fact that each day on average 1600 mothers die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth and nearly 11 million children die each year before they reach their fifth birthday, including four million who die within the first 28 days of life. Almost all these deaths occur in developing countries, although millions of lives could be saved using the knowledge we have today.

Since 2005, Liya has worked hard to advocate on behalf of women and children through media and other events. Since her appointment, she has taken part in several key events organized by WHO and other UN partners, including:

  • Acceptance of the 2005 UN Day Award, "A Spotlight on Global Health," October 2005
  • UN Secretariat in New York, Keynote speaker, Global Women’s Health Awards, November 2006
  • WHO Regional Committee for Africa, Opening ceremony speech, August 2006
  • Meeting of Women Parliamentarians in London organized by WHO and the House of Commons, in observance of UK Mother's Day, March 2007.

This year, Liya will be working on a Global Mother's Day campaign called Make Your Mother's Day, Every Day.

Reducing the number of women dying in childbirth by three quarters and reducing child mortality by two thirds by 2015 is one of the key goals of the Millennium Declaration.

Biography of Liya Kebede

Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Liya Kebede graduated from the French Lycée in Addis. She subsequently moved to Paris to pursue her modelling career.

Liya has appeared on the covers of American, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Spanish Vogue, as well as Time Style and Design. She has a global appeal, as well as a passionate desire to use her success as a means to benefit the lives of people from her homeland and beyond. She speaks English and Amharic, as well as fluent French and some Italian. She currently lives in New York City with her husband and their two children.

For further information, please contact:

Chris Powell
Communications Officer
WHO, Geneva
Tel.: +41 22 791 2888
Mobile: +41 79 2173425

Tala Dowlatshahi
Tel.: +41 22 791 2710
Mobile: + 41 79 4495784