Wednesday, November 08, 2006

U.S. under fire as WHO picks new leader

and the winner is...

Dr. Margaret Chan

GENEVA - The Bush administration's drug and sexual health policy is a key issue as the World Health Organization chooses its next leader, a post that wields great power in allocating billions of dollars in funds to alleviate misery around the world.

After two days of closed-door deliberations, WHO is set to announce its new chief Wednesday.

Contenders for WHO's top job include Dr. Margaret Chan, a bird flu expert and former Hong Kong director of health, Dr. Shigeru Omi of Japan, who heads WHO's Asia office, Mexican Health Minister Dr. Julio Frenk, Spanish Health Minister Elena Salgado Mendez and Dr. Kazem Behbehani, a veteran WHO official in Kuwait.

The United States has not declared a preference for any candidate.

Critics say the United States, WHO's largest donor, plays too large a role behind the scenes. They argue that the Bush administration is promoting the interests of its pharmaceutical industry — at the expense of poor AIDS patients who could be saved by cheap generic medicines — and has adopted an ideological line on issues like abortion.

link to full article

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