Dr. Margaret CHAN

Margaret Chan, from the People's Republic of China, is the Director-General Emeritus of the World Health Organization (WHO), having served as the seventh Director-General from January 2007 to June 2017. During this period, Chan led WHO through a period of profound change. The political, social, economic and epidemiological challenges facing health in the early 21st century have been unprecedented in their complexity and global in their impact.

Population ageing, antimicrobial resistance, climate change, the growing epidemic of obesity, and the globalized marketing of unhealthy products, chronic non communicable diseases overtook infectious diseases as the leading killers worldwide. The rapid growth of travel in an interconnected world facilitated the spread of infectious disease threats on an extraordinary scale and at an alarming rate. The global economic crisis of 2008-2009 also affected populations around the world as many governments struggled to maintain financing for basic health services.

Despite these immense challenges, Chan's leadership ensured sustained progress in improving health and life-expectancy in populations around the world.

During her tenure, Chan led the global movement on “universal health coverage” and declared it as the single most powerful concept that public health has to offer. She established a Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity to draw attention to this grave problem and provide guidance on how to address this challenge. She also led the global response to several major global health emergencies, including: the H1N1 pandemic of 2008, the Ebola outbreak of 2014 in West Africa, and the Zika epidemic of 2016. Chan has also transformed WHO into one of the most transparent and accountable international organisations by initiating an ambitious program of reform since 2011. As Director-General, Chan frequently emphasised the importance of working in partnership with other stakeholders in society to achieve common goals in health; non-governmental organisations, academic institutes, faith-based community, philantropic foundations, and the private sector.

Before joining WHO, she worked for 25 years in Hong Kong's Department of Health, moving from a Medical Officer for maternal and child health services to the position of Director of the Hong Kong SAR's Department of Health. In her nine-year tenure as Director of Health in Hong Kong, she was an influential leader in health policy and health regulation for food safety, tobacco, drugs, pharmaceutical products, and private hospitals; in health care reform and the development of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She advocated strongly for health promotion, disease prevention, and universal health coverage based on primary health care in improving the health of the community.

She launched initiatives to improve communicable disease surveillance and response, public health information system, care for the youth and the elderly, training for public health professionals, and international collaboration in public health. As Director of Health, she became one of the world's foremost public health crisis managers, with first-hand experience in dealing with new and emerging infectious diseases, the H5N1 avian influenza outbreak in 1997 and the SARS outbreak in 2003.

Her first professional degree was from Northcote College of Education, Hong Kong, followed by a B.A. and M.D.degrees from the Western Ontario University, Canada and a Master of Science degree in public health from the National University of Singapore. As management training, she completed a programme for management development at Harvard Business School in Boston.