Dr Jong Wook Lee nominated to be WHO Director-General

WHO Press Release (28 January 2003)

Dr Jong Wook Lee was nominated today by the World Health Organization's Executive Board for the post of Director-General of the agency. The Director-General is WHO's chief technical and administrative officer and sets the policy for the Organization's international health work.

Born on 12 April 1945, in Seoul, Republic of Korea, Dr Lee received a Medical Doctor degree (M.D.) from Seoul National University and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Hawaii.

He has worked at WHO for 19 years in technical, managerial and policy positions, notably leading the fight against two of the greatest challenges to health and development: tuberculosis and vaccine-preventable diseases of children. After heading the WHO Global Programme for Vaccines and Immunizations and serving as a Senior Policy Advisor, he became, in 2000, Director of the Stop TB programme, a coalition of more than 250 international partners including WHO member states, donors, non-governmental organizations, industry and foundations.

Dr Lee speaks English, Korean and Japanese, and reads French and Chinese.

Currently chaired by Professor Kyaw Myint, the 32-member WHO Executive Board yesterday heard oral presentations of each candidate's vision of the future priorities and challenges for the Organization and questioned the applicants. Today, it voted on the five short-listed candidates.

As specified in a (97th session) Board resolution the nominee should have: a strong technical and public health background and extensive experience in international health; competency in organizational management; proven historical evidence for public health leadership; sensitiveness to cultural, social and political differences; a strong commitment to the work of WHO; the good physical condition required of all staff members of the Organization; and sufficient skill in at least one of the official and working languages of the Executive Board and Health Assembly.

This nomination will be submitted for approval to the 56th World Health Assembly scheduled to meet in Geneva from 19-28 May 2003.

Dr Lee will succeed Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland whose decision not to stand for a second term was announced in August last year. The new Director-General will take office and start his five-year term on 21 July 2003.