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We cannot afford to be unprepared for the next global emergency

Dr David Nabarro, candidate to be the next Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), has outlined his immediate actions if successful in the election on May 23rd.

With just over two weeks until the vote at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, this is a role Dr Nabarro has been training for his entire life – a career path that has seen him work across 50 countries, north and south, east and west. He has responded to the needs of people with malaria, HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis as well as pioneering a global movement on improving nutrition across 59 countries.

As Director-General Dr. Nabarro will set out a unifying vision for the WHO so it is ready to take on the challenges of the 21st century and ensures that we leave no one behind.

Using his experience as the United Nations’ Special Envoy on Ebola and Chair of WHO’s Advisory Group on Outbreak and Emergency Reform, Dr Nabarro will ensure that WHO’s responses to outbreaks and emergencies offer dependable and impartial action in the face of disease outbreaks. The focus is on supporting communities and nations to take rapid effective action.

In addition, Dr Nabarro will focus on non-communicable diseases (NCDs), currently responsible for 70% of all deaths across the world. He will bring together governments, NGOs, academics and the private sector as a unifying force to stem this epidemic and reduce suffering. He is also committed to addressing the stigma of mental health, including depression which affects a staggering 300 million people globally.

Dr David Nabarro said:

We cannot afford to be unprepared for the next global emergency. I have experience on the ground, in communities and in running international crisis responses to ensure that WHO is ready to respond promptly when, not if, the next crisis hits.
Meanwhile we continue to fight a global epidemic of chronic diseases. They are killing more than 40 million people a year. As Director-General, I will champion prevention – it makes absolute sense to invest in preventing and reducing the long-term suffering and costs associated with conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
My goal is for everyone, everywhere to have universal access to the health care they need, especially women and children. WHO’s role is to provide rapid and high quality support to governments and their citizens. Countries should know what to expect and receive it promptly. These are my commitments should I be elected Director-General.

A key element to improving global health will be the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and ensuring that WHO is able to play it pivotal role in achieving all its Goals. The WHO needs to be trusted by governments and to hold itself to 2030 Agenda pledge of leaving no one behind. After working within the United Nations to support implementation of the SDGs, Dr Nabarro is committed to continue driving them forward – especially securing Universal Health Coverage.

Commenting on Dr Nabarro’s candidacy, Lindiwe Majele Sibanda CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) said:

David is one of the most committed, passionate humanitarians I have had the privilege of working alongside. His breadth of experience as a doctor, development expert and multilateral adviser makes him the best choice for WHO’s next Director-General. He is able to bring diverse groups of people together and find solutions to some of the most challenging problems through brave and visionary leadership.
His energy is amazing! His expertise in addressing wicked problems such as climate change and malnutrition is unparalleled which is why I am confident that David will ensure WHO is fit to face the challenges of the next decade and that the poorest and most vulnerable do not get left behind.

Dr Nabarro’s campaign for Director-General has seen him visit more than 40 countries meeting world leaders and government ministers, listening to what matters most to them and their people. He has been overwhelmed by the positive way in which he has been received throughout his travels and if elected would be honoured to serve each of WHO’s Member States.

Notes to editors

  • Available for broadcast interviews, please contact Kathryn Dorrian
  • For more information about his campaign - or @DavidNabarro
  • Dr David Nabarro is the UK Candidate to be the next Director-General of the WHO. He has over 40 years of experience working in international public health as practitioner, educator and public servant.
  • His previous roles include:
    • Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change
    • Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Food Security and Nutrition
    • Chair, Advisory Group on Reform of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Work in Outbreaks and Emergencies with Health and Humanitarian Consequences
    • Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on Ebola
    • Coordinator of the Movement to Scale Up Nutrition
  • Dr Nabarro was the first candidate to publish his campaign finances back in 2016 and it is with this transparent, accountable approach that he will lead WHO if elected.