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WHO appoints 1st female Africa Regional Director

A new Africa Regional Director has been appointed by the World Health Organisation. She is Dr Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti, a public health veteran, with more than 35 years of national and international experience with WHO, UNICEF, UNAIDS and the Botswana Ministry of Health.

The WHO Executive Board, at its 136th session, in Geneva, Switzerland, announced the appointment. Moeti’s nomination was ratified in November 2014, by health ministers of the 47 Member States of the WHO African Region during the annual Regional Committee for Africa in Cotonou, Benin republic. She took up the distinguished appointment for a five-year term on 1 February 2015, succeeding Dr Luis Gomes Sambo who has served as Regional Director for the past 10 years.

Moeti is the first woman WHO Regional Director for Africa. Hailed from the Republic of Botswana, her antecedents and competence in policy, strategy and support on a range of regional and global public health issues to international organisations and national governments give cause to cheer.

Team leader

She joined WHO’s Africa Regional Office in 1999 and has served as Deputy Regional Director, Assistant Regional Director, Director of Non-communicable Diseases, WHO Representative for Malawi, and Coordinator of the Inter-Country Support Team for the South and East African countries.

Prior to joining WHO, she worked with UNAIDS as a Team Leader of the Africa and Middle East Desk in Geneva (1997-1999); with UNICEF as a Regional Health Advisor for East and Southern Africa; and with Botswana’s Ministry of Health as a Clinician and Public Health Specialist.

Moeti aims to build a responsive, effective and result-driven regional secretariat that can advance efforts towards universal health coverage and accelerate progress toward global development goals, while tackling emerging threats. Strong partnerships are expected to underpin every aspect of the Regional Office’s work during her tenure.

In a response, Minister of Health of Senegal, Awa Coll-Seck, expressed utmost confidence that the new Director will bring renewed energy and creative solutions to the African Regional Office.

The Director, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Dr. Peter Piot, described Moeti as a public health leader who can transform the WHO’s Africa Regional Office into the type of institution that is needed.

“Dr. Moeti has the right skills and has come at the right moment. She is results driven and I have no doubt that she will make a great contribution to improving health care in Africa,” noted Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS.

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