May 9, 2017: Dr. Sania Nishtar

Dear friends

Over the past two weeks I've had great meetings with ministers, government officials, health leaders, civil society and the media across the Pacific, Western Asia and now in Europe. I’ve been humbled by the number of supporters that are writing letters, articles and signing declarations in support of my candidacy. I dedicate this newsletter to sharing and thanking leaders in health, health workers and colleagues for their trust and faith in my vision.

I have been blown away by the support from my friends at home. In particularly, I’m honored that Pakistan’s rich and diverse civil society are standing behind my candidacy. A letter to Member States of the World Health Assembly urging them to support the candidacy was signed by 122 civil society organizations. Can be accessed here

Health legend Professor Pekka Puska, credited with Finland’s steep decline in cardiovascular disease mortality and now a Member of the Parliament in Finland, kindly supported my campaign and noted the need for the next leader of the WHO to have strong medical, organizational and diplomatic skills. Read letter

Alexendre Kalache from Brazil, a medical epidemiologist specializing in the study of aging also wrote to support. We’ve worked closely at the Emerging Markets Symposim at Oxford University together to address problems of human welfare in emerging markets. Read letter

While travelling extensively around the WHO Western Pacific Region, I was delighted to meet with Dr. Haji Zulkarnain bin Haji Hanafi, Minister of Health of Brunei; Mr. Johnathan Coleman, Minister of Health of New Zealand and Dr. Subramaniam, Minister of Heath of Malaysia.

While in Fiji I met with Rosy Akbar, Minister of Health of Fiji and learnt about the challenges facing Fiji and the Pacific region. I also met with volunteers and government officials and got to wear traditional dress and speak at the Pacific Heads of Health meeting.

In Singapore, I was delighted to discuss and learn from Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Foreign Minister; Dr. Gan Kim Yong, Health Minister and Dr. Lam Pin Min, Minister of State for Health.

I’ve just started travelling across Europe and have already had great meetings and discussions with Mr. Aurelijus Veryga, Minister of Health of Lithuania; Mr. Juha Rehula, Minister of Social Affairs and Health of Finland; Ms. Maris Jesse, Deputy SG, Ministry of Health of Estonia and Mr. Dirk Ashton, SG of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belgium.

While in Qatar, I enjoyed an excellent meeting with Minister Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari.

Throughout all my meetings across the world, I’ve been happy to meet with journalists and outline my vision for a new World Health Organization.

Furthermore, Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta one of Pakistan’s great health leaders who has made a remarkable contribution to the effort to reduce maternal, newborn and child health, released a video statement of support for my candidacy. Watch video

Former cabinet colleague Maqbool H. Rahimtoola and I worked together in the Government of Pakistan at the time when we managed to accelerate reforms and re-establish the Federal Ministry of Health. Read letter

I worked with former Secretary and Minister of Health of Pakistan, Ejaz Raheem on Pakistan’s first non-communicable diseases plan, which included mental health and injuries. As the first developing country integrated plan on NCDs, it marked a turning point in the battle against the major killers. Read more

I worked with the Chair of the National Commission on Government Reforms, Dr. Ishrat Hussain, on driving change through good governance and building strong institutions. Watch video

As WHO representative in Pakistan for a decade, Dr. Khalif Bile was a thought partner and fellow disrupter to ensure that we could drive through. Read letter

It’s been great to hear from former colleague, Mariam Malik, whom I know is going to go on to make a major impact on global health and development. Read more

In another letter, a public health colleague, Dr. Haroon Awan with expertise in blindness prevention cites the example of my ability to be "a step ahead (of others)" and with the ability to "find that beacon of light to direct the world's attention to provide a way forward". Read letter

Finally, it was a touching to hear from a former classmate, Dr Emran Ghaffar who shared the same dreams of reaching the poorest and most marginalized communities with health and development services. We’ve made huge inroads, but there’s still so much more to do. Read letter

Now is the time to deliver a 'New Deal for Health' so that we can together tackle new disease outbreaks, antimicrobial resistance the epidemic of noncommunicable diseases and other health challenges. Thank you for all those that have supported so far and I am excited about what we can achieve together.


Keep in Touch

To keep up with my campaign, follow me on Twitter @SaniaNishtar.


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