LONDON: The World Health Organization announced that three finalists are in the running to become the next director general of the global health agency. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, 51, of Ethiopia, Dr. Sania Nishtar, 53, of Pakistan, and Dr. David Nabarro, 67, of Britain were selected as finalists in the competition to replace Dr. Margaret Chan, whose second term of office ends June 30. Dr Sania Nishtar – a physician cardiologist, running in the marathon to hoist the colour of her country in United Nations (UN) to lead the World Health Organisation (WHO) is ornamented with strong professional background. Dr Nishtar, 53-year-old acknowledged for her transformational leadership in health sector is candidate for Director General (DG) of WHO. And as per latest updates she is leading amongst three finalists with securing 28 votes out of 34. Along with Dr Nishtar, a candidate from United Kingdom (UK) Dr David Nabarro and Ethiopian politician Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus names were announced to be presented in World Health Assembly (WHA) where 196 member states will vote for the next DG WHO in the month of May 2017. The voyage of Pakistani candidate is filled with her wide-ranging experience and services paid in governmental and non-governmental sectors in the country which turned into helping hand of millions of her countrymen. From Best Graduate of Khyber Medical College in 1986, top 20 women scientists in the Muslim world 2014 and to Sitara-e-Imtiaz awarded to her in 2005, Dr Nishtar holds dozens of awards in her profile. In 2000, she left her practise as cardiologist and decided to help the deserving people of the country by innovative solutions in health care system. Serving as federal minister in caretaker government of the country in 2003 Dr Sania headed the departments of health, science & technology and higher education with the approach of transparency and accountability in the government. However, she remained influential in re-establishing Pakistan’s Ministry of Health with her broad experience in the sector. Her public sector experience as member national commissions, public sector boards, restructuring committees, and reform task forces contributed in reaching the WHO top leader contest.
She is also the founder of globally recognized Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Heartfile – considered a dominant voice in health policy of Pakistan and Heartfile Health financing an initiative to support Universal Health Coverage in mixed health systems. She also holds wide experience in global health in multilateral systems and is currently Chair of UN Secretary General’s independent Accountability Panel for the Global Strategy for Women’s Children’s and Adolescents Health and is co-Chair of the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity. The multitalented Pakistani doctor is also a physician scientist and author of many books on health issues. She was awarded Phd in medicine by Kings College London in 2002 and has authored six books till now. She also authored Pakistan’s first compendium of health statistics and the country’s first national public health plan for Prevention and Control of Non Communicable Diseases and Health Promotion. Her aim to uphold the voice of underprivileged made her visionary bringing reforms in the healthcare sector. Her organization is utilizing the mobile technology to save people’s life as doctor’s can verify a patient’s poverty status and provide medical care to one within 72 hours. Talking to The Nation, an official in the Ministry of National Health and Services (NHS) informed that Dr Sania Nishtar’s 10 point agenda gave her distinction in leading the race for DG WHO. “Her program of brining reforms in WHO was appreciated globally giving her lead on other contestants,” said official. Dr Nishtar, in her program presented before world leaders for the future of WHO, has stressed the transparency and accountability in all areas of work. She vowed to make electoral campaign financing a matter of public record and scrutiny.
According to her program WHO leadership will focus on fulfilling the mandate of the organization and will continue to develop the financial, technical, institutional and technological capacity to detect, lead, manage and coordinate the response to outbreak health consequences. According to her program countries will be supported to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and particularly goal 03 to ensure healthy lives and promote well being for all. She presented in her program WHO will work to barricade the life threatening disease and support adaptation to mitigate the climate change by capitalizing on co-benefits of action for health. Dr Sania has expresses her commitment to accelerate pace of reforms at WHO to tackle systematic constraints and to introduce result oriented management system. She also presented in her reforms program to promote culture of partnerships to develop institutional capability of WHO, and to launch new models of financing which will help the organization in striving a budget proportionate to its scope of responsibility. Government of Pakistan in its favouring note for Dr Nishtar’s deserving for position of DG WHO has called her a uniquely suited person who can lead the technical agency with her strong professional background. “Dr Nishtar has a unique combination of experience as minister, civil society trailblazer, leader in multilateral institutions, physician scientist, thought leader, and founder of institutions,” states the government’s note presented in the ten points reforms agenda by Dr Sania. Meanwhile, Minister NHS Saira Afzal Tarar expressing her views said, “Pakistan’s victory at WHO election reflects the growing confidence of world on our country.” Dr Sania Nishtar was being seen as the favourite for the coveted position on being the most qualified for the position along with her services in public health.