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 59th 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.
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, Dr Shin outlined four priority areas of work in the Western Pacific Region:
- WHO must continue to help its Member States respond to public health emergencies and risks, including newly emerging and re-emerging diseases, pandemics and the threat from climate change.
- Secondly, it must accelerate progress towards achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals by strengthening health infrastructure at country level, particularly primary health care and health workforces.
- Thirdly, it must work to improve health within the overall context of social development. Access to health services, along with sanitation, roads and other facilities, is part of the engine that drives growth.
- Finally, it needs to ensure through its efforts that its leading role in public health is recognized by its partners, and that its work is done with maximum efficiency and in a coordinated manner.
Dr Shin said he was taking over at a time when public health faced unprecedented challenges. He said a global financial crisis was likely to limit resources for health work; wars and terrorist activities were raging on multiple fronts; the health of populations around the world was threatened by climate change; newly emerging and re-emerging diseases were proving to be a constant danger; and noncommunicable diseases were becoming a growing problem.
In addition, he said, the public health arena had become crowded, with many competing stakeholders and the attendant risks of competing agendas and duplication of effort and resources.
Dr Shin was born in Seoul on 15 October 1943. He is married, with three children and 4 grandchildren.