Published 16 May 2017, written Dr Iqbal Survé, Pretoria News. 

On May 23, health ministers from around the world will gather in Geneva to vote for a new Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO). It’s a hugely important election for the whole of Africa and the wider world.

The WHO determines how the international community responds to the growing threat of deadly diseases and pandemics, and helps people everywhere get access to the health care they need.

There has been huge progress in making the world a healthier place.

Major killers like malaria and polio have been dramatically reduced. Last year, malaria deaths were halved in six high burden countries. But the WHO also needs an upgrade so it can respond to the challenges the world faces better and more quickly.

The election of a new Director-General is a real opportunity to see positive change.

Our world is challenged by a changing climate, violent conflict, persistent poverty and poor nutrition. And of course none of us are immune to killer diseases.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa showed how diseases can devastate communities, and have a lasting impact on whole countries. Worryingly we have just seen this terrible illness re-emerge in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However swift and decisive action by the government of the DRC to ask for help will undoubtedly save lives.

Leading the global fight against Ebola in 20014/15 was UN special envoy Dr David Nabarro. He is now running in this election to become WHO Director-General. Through my work as a Trustee of the GISAID and as a Patron of the WCPRC, I have been exposed to the work Dr Nabarro has done in support of Africa.

Dr Nabarro’s experience is unrivalled – he has spent over 40 years in international public health as a medical doctor, educator, international public servant and diplomat.

Read the fill article here.