The World Health Organisation has appointed Dr. Soumya Swaminathan as the Chief Scientist of the newly created public health division, which was formed as a part of WHO’s wide-ranging reforms declared on 6th March 2019. The reforms are mainly focused at modernisation and strengthening of the institution to play its role more effectively and efficiently as the world’s leading authority on public health..
Dr Soumya, daughter of MS Swaminathan, India’s Green Revolution Man, will be working out of Geneva, the head quarter of WHO.
“It will give me a platform to promote research on public health priorities and strengthen health research capacity in countries including on ethics, and accelerate access to digital technologies to improve health,” said Dr.Swaminathan revealing that the newly created position will allow her to strengthen WHO’s core normative work.
Dr Soumya Swaminathan has more than 30 years of experience in clinical care and research and was the former secretary of the Department of Health Research and Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research. A paediatrician by qualification, Saumya was lead researcher on HIV and tuberculosis and joined WHO as the Deputy Director General (DDG) in 2017 becoming the first Indian to hold that post.
WHO has now initiated a wide range of reforms to ensure that the organisation meets its “triple billion” targets in the next five years. Its targets are “one billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage, one billion more people better protected from health emergencies and one billion more people enjoying better health and well-being”.
Dr. Swaminathan will be replaced by Zsuzsanna Jakab, who was the regional director of the organisation in Europe, as DDG.