World Health Organization To Elect New Director General In November 31/05/2006 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You also have the opportunity to offer additional support to your subscription, or to donate. The Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) has decided to speed up the process of electing a new director general and will meet in November to nominate a candidate who will be proposed to a special session of the World Health Assembly. The decision was reached in the form of a resolution at the ongoing 29 May to 1 June 118th Executive Board meeting, according to the WHO. This meant waiving a rule which allows for a six-month nomination process, the WHO said. Following the sudden death of Director General Lee Jong-wook on 22 May – the first day of the 59th World Health Assembly – the Executive Board met in a special emergency session the following day to decide how to proceed. A number of sources have indicated that the special session was quite contentious as some countries were confused about the legal procedure, and the meeting lasted late into the evening. Lee had written in a letter, the existence of which the member countries were unaware and which was almost like a personal testament, that the WHO Assistant Director General for Management Anders Nordström should take over if Lee were unable to carry out his job, sources said. The November 2003 letter stated that “Dr. Nordström would not perform the functions of deputy director general unless Lee were unable to perform the functions of his office,” the WHO said. The deputy director general position, which under WHO rules would provide the acting director general in a case of death, was unfilled. But a number of countries questioned the legality of Nordström assuming the position, saying that this did not apply in times of death, sources said. The WHO confirmed that many member states saw this document for the first time on 23 May. Nordström will nevertheless remain the acting director general until a new director general has been appointed. But because the post of deputy director general has been unfilled for many years and because of inflation, Nordström’s salary was higher in his old position than in his new, sources said. This is expected to be discussed by the Executive Board on 31 May, the WHO said. Member countries may propose candidates for the director general post from 1 June to 5 September, and these will be forwarded by the secretariat to all member states by 5 October, the WHO said. On 6-8 November, the 119th Executive Board meeting will work on a shortlist of five candidates and interview them. It will then forward the name of one candidate to a one-day special session of the World Health Assembly on 9 November. This will be the first special session assembly in the WHO’s history, it said. This was the most expensive solution, sources said, but in line with the Executive Board’s decision on 23 May to implement an “accelerated process” for choosing a new director general, the WHO said. The 34 countries represented on the current Executive Board are: Afghanistan, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Denmark, Djibouti, El Salvador, Iraq, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Mexico, Namibia, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Singapore, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Tonga, Thailand, Turkey and the United States. The Candidates At the moment there is informal discussion about possible candidates for the director general post. Among the names circulating are the Mexican Minister of Health, Julio Frenk; the head of UNAIDS Peter Piot; Christopher Murray, faculty director of the Harvard University Initiative for Global Health; and former president of Switzerland Ruth Dreifuss, who headed the recently concluded Commission on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property Rights, two sources said. One source also indicated that the heads of the six regional offices of the WHO could also be interested, as could Asian countries such as Japan. It is generally understood the Asian region is next in line to provide the successor to Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Next Steps For R&D Working Group Separately, the secretariat is expected to soon take forward the work of setting up an inter-governmental working group that would start the work mandated in a resolution adopted at the World Health Assembly last week. The working group is supposed to come up with a “strategy and plan of action aimed at, inter alia, securing an enhanced and sustainable basis or needs-driven, essential health research and development relevant to diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries.” It is not yet clear who will head this group or when the decision will be made, but names have been put forward such as Robert Ridley director of the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, and Howard Zucker, WHO assistant director general for health technology and pharmaceuticals. Zucker is from the United States. "World Health Organization To Elect New Director General In November" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.