Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Dr. Sania Nishtar,
and Dr. David Nabarro
Dr Flavia Bustreo has been nominated by the government of Italy to become the next Director-General of the World Health Organization. Currently, Dr Bustreo leads one of the largest groups within WHO. As Assistant Director-General for Family, Women’s and Children’s Health, she is concerned with health at all stages of life, from birth through to adolescence, motherhood and old age. She also leads on climate change and health, gender, equity and human rights, and violence against women. She was pivotal in ensuring that the final text of the 2015 climate change agreement in Paris recognized the links between climate change and the right to health. As Vice-Chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, she has contributed to ensuring vaccination reach the most needy children. This work complemented the work of her cluster leading the development of vaccinations for diseases such as meningitis and Ebola. During the time Dr Bustreo has been responsible for women’s and children’s health maternal deaths decreased from 532,000 in 1990 to 303,000 in 2015, and under-five deaths from 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2015. Dr Bustreo remains committed to further accelerated progress. She has been at the forefront of a global network of partners who have driven the development of the new Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health for the period of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals from 2016-2030. Dr Bustreo is a candidate with vision, courage, authority as well as the energy and commitment to put these attributes to the service of global health. She also has a proven record of acting on the global stage for the past two decades.
Dr Bustreo’s vision for the work of WHO can be summarized in five words:
Five words, but charged with so much meaning and power for global health. These are words that have guided Dr Bustreo's work at WHO to date and will continue to do so if she is entrusted to lead WHO. They are the principles on which her leadership will focus.
Dr Bustreo is the only internal candidate that any government has put forward. She has devoted her whole life to working in public health. After obtaining her degree in medicine with honors, working as a physician both in the private and public sector, and obtaining her Masters degree in epidemiology, she has worked with the World Health Organization for the past 22 years and knows how to make change happen in the complex organization. She knows the strengths of the organization, especially its valued staff, as well as its weakness and where it needs to be redefined, redesigned, and strengthened to achieve its essential global public health mandate.
Dr. Bustreo has the character, the capacity and the courage to challenge WHO to fulfill its potential to lead in global public health. Her character is breed from an early age as she has worked her way from being the only daughter in a rural family and the first in her family to go to university to becoming a doctor, a then male dominated profession. As a medical doctor she worked with disabled children. She also volunteered her services in war zones in the former Yugoslavia and Iraq. Her capacity is built on experience in several different multilateral institutions, working with national governments, working with broad partnerships of State and non-State actors, and from more than 22 years of successful and progressively rewarded service to the Member States of WHO. Throughout her career Dr Bustreo has demonstrated the courage to challenge the institutions with which she has worked to be the best that they can. She has had the courage to lead reforms in the areas under her responsibility, making these areas more accountable, more results-driven, and better contributors to improving global public health. Most notably she has had the courage to be a champion for justice, fighting for gender equality, human rights for all, and a WHO answerable to, and owned by, all regions of the world
Dr Bustreo is the only internal candidate. She knows WHO today and how best to move it into the future. She offers an up-to-date knowledge of the people, the organization, its strengths, and the areas where WHO needs improvement. She is a candidate who has worked with hundreds of WHO staff, the WHO Staff Association, WHO's Senior Management, and WHO's Member States to sustain the organization and implement reforms. Change in a large organization is an arduous task and it is best undertaken by a leader who understands the people and nature of the organization undergoing change. Change takes time and Dr Bustreo is the only candidate that is familiar enough with WHO to start implementing her vision for WHO from the very start of her mandate on 'day one'.
Dr Bustreo is a candidate who has worked with Member States of WHO for two decades to implement their concerns in manner that has demonstrated her ability to achieve consensus even in complex situations. Her commitment to improving health care for all and her knowledge of global health has provided her the tools to build consensus even when there are initially widely divergent views in the room. She firmly believes that the shared concerns of all Member States for improving global health provide a basis for achieving consensus on important global health issues.
Dr Bustreo has worked with world leaders to achieve results in health financing for women and children's health. This has included work with the Office of the Prime Minister of Norway to secure a 1 billion US dollar contribution to child health; with the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada on the Muskoka G8 Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health; and with the Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to shape the Global Strategy for Women's, Children's and Adolescent's Health 2016-2030 and to shape the Global Financing Facility that was adopted at the Third Financing for Development in July 2015.
Dr Bustreo is a candidate who has demonstrated financial responsibility by securing annually the funding for some the most important work WHO does for family, maternal and child health. She understands the increasingly difficult economic climate and the changing environment for resource mobilization. Moreover, she understands that in such situations resources are made available for demonstrable results. She is a candidate who has demonstrated that WHO can provide measurable results.
Finally, Dr Bustreo experience frequently working with other partners - in addition to the governments mentioned above, the World Bank, the Partnership for Maternal and Child Health, and the Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations - has given her an awareness of the areas in which WHO needs to improve. Her management has been characterized by constant reflection and evaluation both of her own cluster's actions as well as of the global efforts to provide health outcomes. Dr Bustreo's initiation of the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health has meant that WHO and its partners are held accountable every year for their efforts to protect the health of for women and children. Dr Bustreo is the only candidate nominated to be the next Director-General of WHO who has both this important awareness of areas of improvement and the detailed understanding of the organization that is likely to produce the highest levels of success for making WHO an even better contributor to improving global health for all.