The Lancet – Oct 29, 2016 Volume 388 Number 10056

The Lancet
Oct 29, 2016 Volume 388 Number 10056 p2057-2208

Special Report
WHO’s Director-General candidates: visions and priorities
Richard Horton, Udani Samarasekera
A new Director-General of WHO will be selected in May, 2017. Richard Horton and Udani Samarasekera asked the six candidates competing for the position about their candidacy.
The forthcoming election of the next Director-General of WHO comes at a critical moment not only for the world’s only multilateral health agency but also for the precarious trajectory of global health itself. WHO is often criticised for failing to live up to the expectations of the health community. Sometimes, as in the case of how the agency managed the early stages of the Ebola virus outbreak, that criticism is justified. But WHO plays a vital and successful, and frequently neglected, part in setting norms and standards for health in countries. It has a powerful convening role. And, should a Director-General choose to do so, the agency has unprecedented authority to offer leadership in health.

As the world enters a new era—that of the Sustainable Development Goals—the Director-General has an essential voice in shaping the meaning of health in an era of human dislocation, pervasive inequality, mass migration, ecological degradation, climate change, war, and humanitarian crisis. Six excellent candidates for Director-General are standing. All have wide experience in health, as one would expect, but each offers a very different platform. Some candidates have formidable international experience in global health. Others have forged their reputations nationally. Some have strong technical credentials. Others offer political skills. Some come from countries that should be WHO’s greatest concern. Others are from nations that are traditionally seen as donors. Some have expertise in what might be considered the traditional agenda of global health (infectious diseases and women’s and children’s health). Others bring experience of newer concerns. This great diversity of candidates is a strength. It allows the Executive Board of WHO in January, 2017, and then the World Health Assembly in May, to select a candidate based on a clear diagnosis of the global predicament for health and the solutions needed. To help clarify their experience, visions, and ideas, we invited each candidate to offer a brief manifesto and to answer a series of ten questions to illuminate their positions on what we see as some priorities for the organisation…


Maternal Health
Diversity and divergence: the dynamic burden of poor maternal health
Wendy Graham, Susannah Woodd, Peter Byass, Veronique Filippi, Giorgia Gon, Sandra Virgo, Doris Chou, Sennen Hounton, Rafael Lozano, Robert Pattinson, Susheela Singh

Maternal Health
Beyond too little, too late and too much, too soon: a pathway towards evidence-based, respectful maternity care worldwide
Suellen Miller, Edgardo Abalos, Monica Chamillard, Agustin Ciapponi, Daniela Colaci, Daniel Comandé, Virginia Diaz, Stacie Geller, Claudia Hanson, Ana Langer, Victoria Manuelli, Kathryn Millar, Imran Morhason-Bello, Cynthia Pileggi Castro, Vicky Nogueira Pileggi, Nuriya Robinson, Michelle Skaer, João Paulo Souza, Joshua P Vogel, Fernando Althabe

Maternal Health
The scale, scope, coverage, and capability of childbirth care
Oona M R Campbell, Clara Calvert, Adrienne Testa, Matthew Strehlow, Lenka Benova, Emily Keyes, France Donnay, David Macleod, Sabine Gabrysch, Luo Rong, Carine Ronsmans, Salim Sadruddin, Marge Koblinsky, Patricia Bailey