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Margaret Chan

Margaret Chan

Assumed office 
4 January 2007
Preceded by Anders Nordström (Acting)

Born 1947
Hong Kong
Nationality Chinese (Hong Kong)& Canadian
Spouse David Chan [1]

Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, OBE (traditional Chinese: 陳馮富珍; simplified Chinese: 陈冯富珍, born 1947 in Hong Kong) is the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). Chan was elected by the Executive Board of the WHO on 8 November 2006, and was endorsed in a special meeting of the World Health Assembly on the following day. Chan has previously served as Director of Health in the Hong Kong Government (1994-2003), representative of the WHO Director-General for Pandemic Influenza and WHO Assistant Director-General for Communicable Diseases (2003-2006).



Margaret Chan was initially trained as a Home Economics teacher at the Northcote College of Education. She then earned her Bachelor of Arts in Home Economics[2] and her M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) degree at the University of Western Ontario in 1973 and 1977, respectively, as well as her Master's degree of Public Health at the National University of Singapore. She also attended Harvard University Business School[3] in 1991 to study management development. In 1997, she was given the distinction for the Fellowship of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom and was also awarded the OBE by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.[4]

She joined the Hong Kong Government in December 1978 as a Medical Officer. In November 1989, she was promoted to Assistant Director of the Department of Health. In April 1992, she was promoted to Deputy Director and, in June 1994, was named the first female in Hong Kong to head the Department of Health. She left the Hong Kong Government in August 2003 after 25 years of service to join the World Health Organization.

As Hong Kong Director of Health

Her profile was raised by her handling, in those positions, of the 1997 H5N1 avian influenza outbreak and the 2003 SARS outbreak in Hong Kong. After the first victim of the H5N1, Chan first tried to reassure Hongkongers with her infamous statements like, "I ate chicken last night" [5] or "I eat chicken every day, don't panic, everyone".[6][7][8] When many more H5N1 cases appeared, she was criticised for misleading the public. [9] In the end, she was credited for help bringing the epidemic under control by the slaughtering of 1.5 million chickens in the region in the face of stiff political opposition.[10]

Her performance during the SARS outbreak, which ultimately led to 299 deaths, attracted harsh criticism from the Legislative Council of Hong Kong and many SARS victims and their relatives.[8] She was criticised by the Legislative Council for believing in misleading information shared by the mainland authority and did not act swiftly.[11] On the other hand, the SARS expert committee established by the Hong Kong Government to assess its handling of the crisis, opined that the failure was not Chan's fault, but due to the structure of Hong Kong's health care system, in which the separation of the hospital authority from the public health authority resulted in problems with data sharing.[12]

Her track record in SARS handling led to some concerns in Hong Kong about her ability to lead the WHO.[citation needed]

As Director-General elect of WHO

Dr Chan considers the "improvements in the health of the people of Africa and the health of women" to be the key performance indicator of WHO and she wants to focus WHO's attention on "the people in greatest need."[13]

In February 2007, Chan provoked the anger of humanitarian and civil society groups by questioning the quality of generic medicines whilst on a visit to Thailand.."[14]

Sources and notes

  1. ^ Possible WHO head is Western grad. The London Free Press (2006-10-13).
  2. ^ Helen Branswell (2006-11-08). University of Western Ontario delighted med school grad named WHO chief. Canadian Press.
  3. ^ Margaret Chan rose to prominence in Hong Kong's battle with bird flu. Associated Press (2006-11-08).
  4. ^ Margaret Chan Professional Experience
  5. ^ The Flu Fighters. Asia Week (1998-01-30).
  6. ^ Zero bird flu=zero live chicken? Dissecting central slaughtering (in Chinese). Sing Tao Daily (2006-09-06).
  7. ^ Chan wins. Lead Health department for 10 years, slaughter chicken to stop bird flu (in Chinese). Ta Kung Pao (2006-11-09).
  8. ^ a b Matthew Lee (2005-07-29). Swine virus fears mount. The Standard.
  9. ^ Margaret Chan "at the right time" (in Chinese). Asia Times Online (2006-11-09).
  10. ^ Bird flu expert to lead WHO. BBC (2006-11-06).
  11. ^ Report of the Select Committee to inquire into the handling of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak by the Government and the Hospital Authority. Legislative Council of Hong Kong (2004-07).
  12. ^ Miriam Shuchman (2007-2-15). Improving global health--Margaret Chan at the WHO.. N Engl J Med.
  13. ^ Chan sets out goals for WHO. The Standard (2006-11-10).
  14. ^ WHO Chief's Stand on Generic Drugs Slammed. IPS (2007-02-02).

Further reading

  • Dr Chan's CV (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China)
  • Health, Welfare and Food Bureau, HK Government introduction
  • China's Margaret Chan says to work tirelessly for world health (Peoples' Daily Online)
  • Bird flu expert set to lead WHO (BBC NEWS)
  • WHO Board Nominates Margaret Chan As Director General (Wall Street Journal Online)
  • Who's Next at WHO? (Time online's blog)
Preceded by
Anders Nordström (Acting)
Director-General of the World Health Organization
Succeeded by

NAME Chan, Margaret
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Chan Fung Fu-chun, Margaret (full name); 陳馮富珍 (traditional Chinese); 陈冯富珍 (simplified Chinese)
SHORT DESCRIPTION Director-General of the World Health Organization
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Margaret_Chan". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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