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Opinion: Who should lead WHO (Pt. 3 of 3)? Dr. David Nabarro, “a frontline clinician and global health leader”

[Featured image above: New Guinea Ebola vaccine trials; WHO/S. Hawkey]

The views expressed in this blog post belong solely to its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of PLOS or the PLOS journals. 

This is the second of three posts on the May 2017 election of the next Director General of the World Health Organization.

For statements in support of the other two final candidates, read part 1 and part 2. 

Proposed guest posts for “Your Say” can be emailed to — PLOSBLOGS


Guest post by Rashid A. Chotani

The world is changing at a tremendous pace and as a result, people face an ever-growing avalanche of threats to their health. The need for a robust, reliable and responsive World Health Organization (WHO) has never been more urgent.

The WHO is a vital organisation for a healthy world, but it needs an upgrade. Its reputation was shaken by its slow response to Ebola and it is in desperate need of a resolute, experienced and inspirational leader – and in my view, there is only one person the world should turn to.

 “Transparent and responsive in a global epidemic”

Dr David Nabarro, candidate of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Dr. David Nabarro has over 40 years of experience and has worked in more than 50 countries. He is the only candidate who has repeatedly and successfully managed complex global health challenges. Over the course of his outstanding career, successive Secretaries-General’s have turned to him to lead the UN’s responses to diseases such as malaria, Avian Influenza, and most recently Ebola.

Countries around the world want to know they can rely on the WHO to be transparent and responsive in a global epidemic – Dr. Nabarro is the best person in the world to ensure this. The World Health Organization recognised this when they asked him to chair the Advisory Group on the Reform of the WHO’s Work in Outbreaks and Emergencies.

 “Dr. Nabarro will champion the fight against NCD’s”

As well as securing the safety of the world from infectious epidemics, Dr. Nabarro is a unifying force who will make sure the WHO is ready to take on the challenges of the 21st century – critically, the Non-communicable diseases (NCD) epidemic, currently responsible for killing 40 million people a year – 70% of all deaths globally.

Tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets all increase the risk of dying from a NCD. Dr. Nabarro will champion the fight against NCD’s and make sure we invest in prevention.

 “He won’t get stuck in the mud”

Dr Nabarro has been a medical clinician on the frontline who also has a proven track record of successfully and repeatedly leading movements for global rather than just national health outcomes.

A key element to improving global health will be The 2030 Agenda. Health is central to the Sustainable Development Goals and as a former UN Special Adviser on Sustainable Development, Dr. Nabarro is ready to ensure that the WHO is well-positioned for this new era. The WHO needs to be trusted by governments while holding itself to 2030 Agenda pledge to leave no one behind.

An integral part to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is Universal Health Coverage for all. Dr. Nabarro is whole-heartedly committed to progressing this cause – making sure everyone, everywhere has access to the services needed to protect, improve and maintain their health. In my humble opinion, we need Dr. Nabarro’s experience and ability to build strong international momentum to make this a reality.

Dr. Nabarro knows how the international landscape works – he won’t get stuck in the mud – he has the knowledge and experience to start implementing progressive change and restoring credibility immediately.

I am confident that Dr. Nabarro will make the WHO the undisputed leader on all health issues and advance people-centred health policies

 “Dr. Nabarro will unify the world behind improving health for all.”

Dr Nabarro’s career has been about public health for vulnerable populations, a commitment to equity and a continual commitment to honesty and transparency in everything he does. What you see is what you get. He is tried and tested.

Dr Nabarro is a truly global leader who puts the needs and aspirations of people above all other considerations. His ‘catalytic approach’ will improve relevance and realism, impact and efficiency in all of WHO’s work. Each Member States will see how WHO delivers value for investments. Dr. Nabarro will unify the world behind improving health for all.

The WHO needs someone who can deliver and Dr. Nabarro has that track record.

Health is too important for politics and the WHO is too fragile to make a mistake. I urge all nation states to support the best candidate, Dr. David Nabarro.

Dr. Rashid A. Chotani is Professor, Department of Epidemiology, University of Nebraska Medical Center & Executive Director of MCC Medical Clinic. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and an Adjunct Professor at George Washington University. Dr. Chotani has authored or co-authored over 100 scientific papers, technical reports, chapters and 2 books and has received numerous national and international awards; most recently he was honored by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for his work on State-of-Art in Research on Medical Countermeasures against Biological Agents and contributions to HFM-RTG-186 Committee and received the “2016 NATO Scientific Achievement Award.” The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the organizations he represents or work for.




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