Leading the fight against infectious diseases
Margaret Chan is a Chinese doctor, born in
Chan studied medicine at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. In 1978 she joined the Department of Health of Hong Kong, where she started her career in the field of public health.
For nine years she was the Director of Health of Hong Kong. In the exercise of this office she launched new services to prevent the spread of disease and promote health. She promoted new initiatives to improve monitoring and response to infectious diseases, strengthen the training of public health professionals and improve local and international collaboration mechanisms. She effectively managed outbreaks of avian flu and severe acute respiratory syndrome.
In 2003 she joined the World Health Organization, being appointed in June 2005 Director of the Office of Infectious Diseases. Since 2006 she held the position of Director-General of WHO, the organization responsible for eradicating infectious diseases and diseases that can be prevented with vaccination.
From her post Dr. Chan has faced health emergencies and the crisis of antibioticresistance. On September 21, 2016 she spoke a few, almost apocalyptic, words at the headquarters of the United Nations:
“Antimicrobial resistance is a global crisis, a tsunami in slow motion. The situation is bad and is getting worse. Considering the current trends, a common disease like gonorrhea could become untreatable. Doctors will have to say to their patients: 'I'm sorry, we can't do anything for you".
Margaret Chan was awarded the 2009 Príncipe de Asturias Award for International Cooperation.