Dr Shin Young-soo

Regional Director Dr Shin Young-soo

Dr Shin Young-soo became the World Health Organization's Regional Director for the Western Pacific in February 2009.

Dr Shin is the first Regional Director for the Western Pacific to come from outside of WHO. He was nominated at the September 2008 session of the Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, and confirmed by the Organization's Executive Board in Geneva in January 2009. He ran unopposed for a second five-year term and was confirmed again in January 2014.

From his first day at the helm, Dr Shin pledged to put countries at the centre of the work of WHO in the Region. In his acceptance speech to the Executive Board in January 2014, he outlined key principles that define his leadership in the 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.

As Regional Director, Dr Shin has led a series of reforms to change the way the Organization works. His focus has been constant: providing better support focused on needs at the country level. These reforms are producing results by helping Member States to achieve better health outcomes for the nearly 1.9 billion people of the Western Pacific Region.

Despite the successes, Dr Shin remains focused on the challenges that remain. He explains: “A great challenge will be assisting Member States to strengthen health systems towards Universal Health Coverage. 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.”

Before becoming Regional Director, Dr Shin had a longstanding connection with WHO. He had undertaken more than 30 assignments with the Organization as an adviser and consultant, serving several times on the Executive Board as the representative of the Republic of Korea.

Prior to 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, he became research assistant in preventive medicine at the university while pursuing an advanced degree at the School of Public Health. He then went to serve as a medical officer in the Korean Navy for three years, before enrolling in the School of Public Health at Yale University in the United States. He graduated in 1977.

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

Dr Shin was born in Seoul on 15 October 1943. He is married with three children and four grandchildren.

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