Dr Shin confirmed by WHO Executive Board as Regional Director for the Western Pacific for the next five years

News release


The nomination of Dr Shin Young-soo for a second five-year term as WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific was confirmed today by the Executive Board during its 134th session.

“I am deeply honoured by the decision of the Executive Board to appoint me as Regional Director for the Western Pacific for a second term,” said Dr Shin. “It is not only an honour for me, but it is also recognition of staff’s hard work and support in close collaboration with Member States.” Dr Shin’s new term will begin on 1 February 2014 and end on 31 January 2019.

Dr Shin acknowledged that there is more work to be done. “A great challenge will be assisting Member States to strengthen health systems towards Universal Health Coverage,” he said. “The long-term success of many of our efforts — from disaster preparedness to combating communicable and noncommunicable diseases — depends on accessible and effective health systems.”

He added that there is a need to examine how WHO works and adapts to better serve Member States as their health needs change. “We must constantly reinvent ourselves to fulfil our mission of service to Member States,” he said.

Dr Shin outlined the following key principles to guide the Organization’s work for the next five years in the Western Pacific Region:

  • WHO must be country-needs oriented and people-centred by focusing on the most vulnerable groups of people within countries.
  • The Organization should build on successes, tackling emerging challenges while continuously recognizing unfinished business.
  • WHO must be flexible and adaptable as it continues to engage all actors in health and beyond health.
  • WHO staff must be more effective managers – of both financial and human resources.

Since Dr Shin took over as Regional Director, much has been achieved in the Region in terms of health outcomes. For example:

  • The Region has already achieved or anticipates achieving Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6 targets by 2015.
  • The measles elimination initiative in the Region has been successfully concluded. The Regional Verification Commission was established in 2012 to verify measles elimination in each country, one by one.
  • The Region has achieved the 2012 milestone of less than 2% hepatitis B seroprevalence among children under five – a substantial reduction from historic rates as high as 10% in parts of the Region. Last year, the Regional Committee further set a goal of 1% by 2017 – a step that will save an estimated 60 000 lives each year.
  • Malaria control in the Region has been so successful that nine out of 10 endemic countries in the Western Pacific have changed their national goal from control to elimination.

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

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. He was nominated for a second five-year term at the sixty-fourth session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific in October 2013.

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, please contact:

Mr Ruel E. Serrano
Assistant, Public Information Office
Telephone: +632 528 9993
E-mail: serranor@wpro.who.int