The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday appointed Soumya Swaminathan one of two deputy directors general, the first time such a post has been ever created within the organisation. The position is also the highest post held by an Indian in the WHO. Dr. Swaminathan is currently the Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Dr. Swaminathan has been appointed as Deputy Director General for Programmes and Ms. Jane Ellison, who was Special Parliamentary Adviser to the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, has been appointed as a Deputy Director General for Corporate Operations (DDC).
Renowned for TB work
Dr. Swaminathan is a paediatrician and a globally-recognised researcher on tuberculosis and HIV, who has over 30 years of experience in clinical care and research. From 2009 to 2011, according to the WHO, she also served as Coordinator of the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) in Geneva.
She has been a member of several WHO and global advisory bodies, including the WHO Expert Panel to Review Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property, the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group of the Global TB Department at WHO. She was also the Co-Chair of the Lancet Commission on TB.
The announcement was made by WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Representatives from 14 countries were chosen to be part of Ghebreyesus’ team and 60% of them are women, according to a statement from the organisation.