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The Latest: Pakistani doctor makes pitch to be WHO chief

China's Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization, WHO, addresses her statement, during the 70th World Health Assembly at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, May 22, 2017. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

GENEVA (AP) — The Latest on the World Health Organization’s new chief (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

Pakistan’s candidate to be the next director-general of the World Health Organization, cardiologist Dr. Sania Nishtar, said she decided to go into public health after being told the hospital where she worked would start using recycled catheters for patients who couldn’t pay.

In her remarks Tuesday to the World Health Assembly, who will soon vote to choose the U.N. health agency’s next leader, Nishtar cited her past experience leading non-governmental organizations, saying that would help her bridge the numerous polarizing situations in public health.

Like the other two candidates, Nishtar promised to make WHO accountable, saying she was credited for bringing transparency to public health when she was a minister in Pakistan.

She says “I will come to your countries not to cut ribbons but to work with you.”


3:20 p.m.

A U.N. veteran who is Britain’s candidate for the top job at the World Health Organization says he knows “how the kitchen works in the United Nations.”

Dr. David Nabarro delivered his last pitch for the job of WHO director-general moments before its assembly was to choose between him, Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Dr. Sania Nishtar of Pakistan.

Speaking to the delegates, Nabarro said “the health of 7 billion people rests in your hands” and acknowledged that some have felt “let down” by WHO and want it to be “more relevant, responsive and reliable.”

He added: “Under my leadership, it will be.”

Nabarro cited lessons from the Ebola crisis that “speed and flexibility” are needed, but above all WHO should be “competent and dependable.”


3:10 p.m.

The president of this year’s World Health Assembly opened this afternoon’s proceedings by calling for a minute of silence to remember the victims of the Manchester bombing attack.

In the final phase of the race to elect the WHO’s next leader, the three remaining candidates are making their last pitches Tuesday.

First to speak was Ethiopia’s candidate to lead the World Health Organization, former minister of health Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Ghebreyesus said it was “pure luck” that he was competing in the race to be its next director-general, noting that his seven-year-old brother was killed by a childhood disease and it could just as easily have been him. Among other pledges, Ghebreyesus said he would work “tirelessly to fulfill WHO’s promise of universal health coverage.”


1:15 p.m.

Health ministers, diplomats and other high-level envoys are set to choose the next director-general of the World Health Organization among three finalists.

As it stands, 185 member states attending WHO’s World Health Assembly are eligible to cast ballots Tuesday afternoon. Nine others are either in arrears on their dues or not represented at the 10-day gathering.

The candidates are Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a 52-year-old former government minister in Ethiopia; Sania Nishtar, a 54-year-old cardiologist and former government minister from Pakistan; and David Nabarro, 67, a physician and longtime U.N. official from Britain.

The winner will succeed Dr. Margaret Chan, who’s ending a 10-year tenure.

The U.N. agency’s chief has considerable power to set global medical priorities and declare health emergencies, such as outbreaks of the Zika or Ebola viruses.

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