Dr Shin nominated for second term to lead WHO Western Pacific Region

News release

Dr Shin Young-soo was nominated today by WHO 's governing body in the Western Pacific for a second five-year term as Regional Director for the Western Pacific.

"I thank the Regional Committee for its vote of confidence in my administration and am grateful for the opportunity to continue my service," Dr Shin said.

The nomination will be submitted for confirmation by the WHO Executive Board when it meets in Geneva from 20 to 28 January 2014. If confirmed by the Executive Board, Dr Shin’s new term will begin on 1 February 2014 and end on 31 January 2019.

"If the Executive Board concurs, I shall look forward to tackle the Organization's unfinished business," Dr Shin said. "This would include finishing the job of eliminating measles and some of the neglected tropical diseases from the Region, such as yaws and leprosy; controlling the epidemic of noncommunicable diseases; ensuring that all our people have access to quality health care; and enhancing the capacity of our Member States to respond adequately during health emergencies."

The Regional Director provides leadership, strengthens governance and fosters partnership and collaboration with Member States, the other United Nations agencies and partners and stakeholders to fulfil the mandate of WHO in improving health outcomes in the Western Pacific Region.

Under Dr Shin, the Western Pacific Region has maintained its polio-free status, come close to eliminating measles and reduced chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus to less than 2% of children five and older. It has moved closer towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals having to do with maternal health, child mortality and halting and reversing the epidemics of HIV, malaria and tuberculosis. It has improved preparedness for public health emergencies, such as the outbreak of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) that occurred earlier this year in China. And it has helped its Member States to improve access to equitable health care for more of their people.

Under Dr Shin, nine of the 10 countries where malaria is endemic changed their programme goal from control to elimination, and a regional hub was launched in Cambodia to provide coordination and support for the intensified effort to contain and eliminate the kind of malaria that is resistant to the frontline drug artemisinin. WHO has spearheaded the fight against neglected tropical diseases, with lymphatic filariasis and yaws among those diseases targeted for elimination in the Region.

The Region has also moved comprehensively to address the epidemic of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), including heart attack, strokes, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases that accounts for 80% of deaths in the Region. WHO in the Western Pacific has developed a draft regional action plan for the prevention and control of the NCDs through efforts to control the diseases' four common risk factors: tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and the harmful use of alcohol.

Dr Shin has led WHO's efforts to implement the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in the Region. All countries in the Region have ratified the treaty, and WHO recently provided technical assistance to Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Tonga as they implemented one of its key provisions having to do with raising taxes on tobacco products. Also with WHO assistance, Viet Nam recently passed a comprehensive tobacco control law that took effect in May 2013. Ministers from the Pacific island states are now aiming for a Tobacco Free Pacific by 2025.

Dr Shin has also sought to adapt WHO's approach to country and regional contexts through the Western Area Health Initiative in China, cooperation with the WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia in the Greater Mekong Subregion and creation of the the Division of Pacific Technical Support in Fiji.

Dr Shin, from the Republic of Korea, became WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific on 1 February 2009. He had been nominated for the position at the fifty-ninth session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific in September 2008 and confirmed at the 124th session of the Executive Board in January 2009.

Dr Shin has long-standing connections with WHO, having undertaken more than 30 assignments with the Organization as an adviser and consultant and having served several times on its Executive Board as the representative of the Republic of Korea. Until joining WHO, Dr Shin was a professor of health policy and management at the College of Medicine, Seoul National University, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1969.

After graduation, Dr Shin took up a post as research assistant in preventive medicine at the same university while pursuing an advanced degree in the university’s School of Public Health. After three years as a medical officer in the Korean Navy, he enrolled in the School of Public Health at Yale University, United States of America, where he graduated in 1977.

During the early 1990s, when working for the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare, Dr Shin led a pioneering pilot project designed to improve grassroots primary health care. He was later instrumental in upgrading the country’s national health system at a time when universal health coverage was being introduced. In 2002 and 2003, Dr Shin served as director of Korea’s National Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, which disburses more than US$ 20 billion annually in health insurance payments.

For further information or to request for an interview, please contact:

Mr Ruel Serrano
Assistant, Public Information Office
Tel.: +632 528 8001
E-mail: serranor@wpro.who.int