WHO in the Western Pacific

Founding of the Western Pacific Regional Office

The First World Health Assembly held from 24 June to 24 July 1948 defined a geographical area, the Western Pacific, in which a regional organization should be established. It included Australia, China, Indochina, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines and provisionally, the Malay Peninsula.

In July 1948, China and the Philippines offered to host the headquarters of the regional organization for the Western Pacific.

The Third World Health Assembly approved the establishment of a regional organization for the Western Pacific known as WPRO for short, and a temporary office was set up in Hong Kong, headed by Dr I. C. Fang.

The first session of the Regional Committee was held in Geneva, 18 May 1951. Representatives from Australia, Cambodia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Philippines, New Zealand, Viet Nam, France, Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom attended the meeting. The Committee selected Manila as the site of the Regional Office and nominated Dr Fang as the first Regional Director.

The World Health Organization Executive Board formalised the selection process on 1 June 1951. The Philippine government and the WHO signed a Host Agreement for the establishment of the Regional Office in Manila.

On 15 August 1951, the Regional Office was transferred from Hong Kong to Manila and was initially housed at the Bureau of Quarantine, Port Area, Intramuros.

The Philippine government and the Regional Office signed an agreement for the construction of a WHO Regional Office building. The site of the building, a one-hectare lot, was donated to WHO by the Philippine government The WHO Western Pacific Regional Office was inaugurated on 26 September 1958.

Dr Francisco J. Dy, a Filipino, succeeded Dr Fang as Regional Director in July 1966. After him, a Japanese, Dr Hiroshi Nakajima, was appointed Regional Director on July 1979. He was followed by a Korean, Dr Han Sang Tae, on February 1989.

Dr Shigeru Omi, a Japanese, followed in February 1999. The current Regional Director is Dr Shin Young-Soo, a Korean, who took up office in February 2009.

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Fifty years of the WHO in the Western Pacific Region