Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday (November 01, 2023) thanked the countries, especially neighbouring India, noting that they actively supported Bangladesh’s campaign for Saima Wazed’s win in the WHO South East Asia Regional Director election.
“I must thank all the countries, especially India. They helped in our campaign. They actively supported our candidature,” he told reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Saima Wazed has been nominated, through an election, as the Regional Director (RD) of the South East Asia Regional Organization (SEARO) of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the term 2024-2028.
The election took place during the 76th session of the Regional Committee for SEARO, the annual governing body meeting of WHO at the regional level, in New Delhi today (November 01, 2023).
The election was held by secret ballot with the participation of the 10 member states of the SEARO which were eligible for voting.
Saima Wazed bagged eight votes in the bid while the other candidate Dr Shambhu Prasad Acharya, nominated by the Government of Nepal, secured two votes.
“I expected 9 votes. Thank God. It was a big challenge. All of us worked very hard. We maintained a very decent campaign,” the foreign minister said.
Momen, however, expressed displeasure over mudslinging by a certain group against the Bangladesh candidate.
“I found her excellent in technical knowledge and she is also a good organiser,” said the foreign minister.
This election with overwhelming support reflects the recognition of Saima’s passion and relentless work in public health and demonstrates the confidence and trust of the region in her leadership skills, the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi said.
“Thank you to WHO SEARO Member States for choosing me to be their next Regional Director,” Saima Wazed said in reaction.
She paid tribute to the outgoing Regional Director Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, for her decade of service to the public health of the region.
“A special tribute as well for my fellow nominee in this race, Dr. Acharya. In his long and distinguished career, he has been an invaluable asset to WHO - and I hope our region will continue to benefit from his knowledge and experience,” she wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
“I look forward to building a healthier South-East Asia,” she added.
The nomination will be submitted for appointment by the 154th session of the WHO Executive Board, which takes place from January 22 to 27, 2024 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The newly appointed regional director will take office on February 1, 2024 for a five-year term and be eligible for reappointment once.
Earlier, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in coordination with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, conducted an effective campaign in favour of the Bangladesh candidature since the very beginning of the election process.
The SEARO is one of the six regions of WHO with its headquarters in New Delhi, India.
It comprises 11 countries, namely, Bangladesh, Bhutan, DPR Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor Leste.
The SEARO is headed by the RD who is nominated by the members of the SEARO countries.