WHO Executive Board appoints two Regional Directors
23 January 2004 - Today, the 113th Session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board, currently meeting in Geneva, has appointed two WHO Regional Directors.
South-East Asia Region
Dr Samlee Plianbangchang has been newly-appointed Regional Director for the South-East Asia (WHO/SEARO). The SEARO Regional Director will serve for a period of five years beginning 1 March 2004. He follows Dr Uton Muchtar Rafei who served two terms as SEARO Regional Director from 1994 to 2004.
Dr Plianbangchang, a national of Thailand, was born in 1940. He graduated from medical and public health colleges in Thailand and the United States. He started his career as a medical doctor in 1965 and held various health-related positions in Thailand.
From 1984 to 2000, Dr Plianbangchang served at WHO in different capacities at Headquarters in Geneva and in the South-East Asia Region, including as Deputy Regional Director from 1999 to 2000 in SEARO. Currently, he is Dean, College of Public Health of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok and Advisor to the Minister of Public Health of Thailand. He has published extensively in leading technical and academic journals, and has received several awards as recognition for his extensive work in the public health sector.
This morning on accepting the nomination, Dr Plianbangchang told the Executive Board, "As a public health servant, I am very well aware of the responsibilities this entails. I would like to take this opportunity of re-dedicating myself to the achievement of better health for the people of the WHO South East Asia Region, with a population of more than 1.5 billion, accounting for about 25% of the world's population, but 40% of the world's poor. I pledge my full support to the efforts of our Member States in their quest for health for all people."
SEARO is one of the six Regional Offices of WHO, with eleven Member States: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Sri Lanka.
Western Pacific Region
Dr Shigeru Omi has been re-appointed Regional Director for the WHO Western Pacific Region (WHO/WPRO). He begins his second five-year term on 1 February 2004. Dr Omi, a national of Japan, was born in Tokyo in 1949. He studied law and medicine in Japan and the United States. Dr Omi joined the WHO WPRO in Manila, Philippines, in 1990 as Responsible Officer for the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI). He also spearheaded WPRO's poliomyelitis eradication initiative. In February 1999, Dr Omi assumed the position of Regional Director of WPRO.
"During my second term as Regional Director I will focus on two main areas. First, I want us to redouble our efforts to address the unfinished agenda in communicable and noncommunicable diseases, health promotion and health system development. Second, levels of health, economic and social development in the Western Pacific Region mean that we can now afford to address more qualitative issues," Dr. Omi told the Executive Board.
WPRO includes 1.6 billion people in 37 Member States and areas. These are: American Samoa, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Cook Islands Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hong Kong SAR China, Japan, Kiribati, Macao China, Republic of Korea, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Marshall Islands,Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Wallis and Futuna Islands