WHO names new regional director for the Western Pacific

Dr. Takeshi Kasai identifies priorities: health security, noncommunicable diseases and ageing, environmental and climate change

Manila (WHO) — – Dr Takeshi Kasai was confirmed Saturday as the World Health Organization (WHO) regional director for the Western Pacific by the WHO Executive Board in Geneva, Switzerland.

“I am grateful for the trust placed in me by WHO Member States and deeply honored to serve as regional director for the Western Pacific,” said Kasai.

He underscored the importance of making WHO even more responsive to countries’ needs in a world where rapid economic, environmental and social changes are affecting the lives and health of the Region’s nearly 1.9 billion people.

Kasai said he plans to build on the decade of leadership and legacy of the outgoing regional director Dr Shin Young-soo: “For more than seven decades, countries have counted on WHO to work with them to solve a variety of public health challenges. My predecessor, Dr Shin Young-soo, transformed WHO in this Region, making it more people-centered and country-oriented. We must continue to evolve as an organization – building on past accomplishments while being closely attuned to new realities on the ground.”

Kasai said he will reinforce support in three key areas that member states have identified as priorities for the future: health security, noncommunicable diseases and ageing, and environmental and climate change.

“We must keep the region safe from new and re-emerging disease threats. We don’t know when or where the next pandemic will arise, but it will happen,” he said. “All countries must be prepared, regardless of their size or stage of development.”