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More changes in WHO structure announced

World Health Organization Director-General Dr Margaret Chan announced a second round of changes to the structure of the Organization.

In a message to staff, Dr Chan said the Health Technology and Pharmaceuticals cluster will be merged into the Health Systems and Services cluster in recognition of the fact that "access to safe, effective, affordable medicines and other technologies is a fundamental component of an effective health system."

The Health Technology and Pharmaceuticals cluster, which includes the departments of Essential Health Technologies, Medicines Policy and Standards and the department of Technical Cooperation for Essential Drugs and Traditional Medicine, will be moved immediately. Its leader, Dr Howard Zucker, will be leaving WHO to pursue other opportunities.

The WHO team providing support to the Intergovernmental Working Group on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property, which is developing a global strategy and action plan, will be expanded and will now report directly to the Office of the Director General, Dr Chan added.

In other changes, Dr Eric Laroche has been appointed to lead the Health Action in Crisis cluster. Dr Laroche, who will take up his post 1 Februrary 2008, is currently UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Representative in Somalia.

Dr Ala Alwan, who currently leads the Health Action in Crisis cluster, will become head of the Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health cluster, also effective 1 February.

Other structural changes were announced last month, and are part of Dr Chan's pledge to align the structure of the organization with WHO's strategic priorities, including the strengthening of health systems.

For more information contact:

Emma Ross
Department of Communications
World Health Organization, Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 1492