Dr Shin Young-soo
Dr Shin Young-soo took up the position of the World Health Organization's Regional Director for the Western Pacific on 1 February 2009.
He was nominated for the position at the fifty-ninth session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific in September 2008 and confirmed by the Organization's 124th session of the Executive Board in Geneva in January 2009. Dr Shin is the first Regional Director for the Western Pacific to be appointed from outside WHO. 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 and confirmed by the Organization’s 134th session of the Executive Board in Geneva in January 2014.
Dr Shin was the first Regional Director for the Western Pacific to be appointed from outside WHO.
Dr Shin has longstanding connections with WHO, having undertaken more than 30 assignments with the Organization as an adviser and consultant, and having on a number of occasions served on its Executive Board as the representative of the Republic of Korea.
Until joining WHO, Dr Shin was 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.
In his acceptance speech to WHO's Executive Board in January 2014, 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.
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 was born in Seoul on 15 October 1943. He is married, with three children and four grandchildren.