HOME > Topics > Dr Margaret CHAN - China's Candidate for DG of WHO

MD, DSc (Canada),
MScPH (Singapore)

Nationality: Chinese

Age: 59

Summary of Professional Experience

Dr Margaret Chan is the Representative of the WHO Director-General for Pandemic Influenza and Assistant Director-General for Communicable Diseases. She has brought with her a wealth of experience and a global perspective in public health as a world renowned and highly respected public health official, with broad and in-depth international knowledge and experience in communicable diseases, health regulation (including regulation of food, drugs, pharmaceutical products and traditional Chinese medicines, and tobacco control), environmental health and chronic diseases.

As one of the world's most visionary and experienced public health crisis managers with first hand experience in dealing with new and emerging infectious disease, she has led global efforts to strengthen preparedness for human pandemic influenza over the last year in WHO. Two marked examples where Dr Chan fully demonstrated her outstanding leadership in combating the threat posed by new and emerging infectious disease are the H5N1 avian influenza outbreak and the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong in 1997 and in 2003 respectively.
In the H5N1 avian influenza outbreak in 1997, which was the world's first outbreak affecting both poultry and humans, Dr Chan's decisive actions, including the decision to cull about 1.5 million poultry, which were later to become the global standard for the control of avian influenza, effectively prevented the spread of the avian influenza to other countries. Dr Chan once again demonstrated her leadership in the management and control of the complex outbreak of SARS in 2003, which took Hong Kong, and indeed the world, by storm. Her unrivalled first hand experience made her the obvious choice to become WHO's first Representative of the Director-General for Pandemic Influenza.

Prior to the current appointment in 2005, Dr Chan directed the work of WHO in the Protection of the Human Environment, which encompassed aspects of human health and quality of life that are determined by physical, chemical, biological, social, and psychosocial factors in the environment. These included key areas of health related to water and sanitation, radiation and chemical safety, indoor and outdoor air pollution, and occupational health.

During her nine-year tenure as the Director of the Hong Kong Department of Health from 1994-2003, Dr Chan was involved in the formulation of public health policies and implementation of new initiatives. She took a strong interest in health advocacy and health promotion and was fully committed to improving the health of the community through universal access to free or affordable primary health care services.
She introduced preventive and promotive health care services for children, adolescents, women, men and the elderly. Other health policies that she formulated and implemented include disease surveillance and response, the training of public health physicians and other healthcare professionals, the improvement of public health laboratory capacities, the building up of an information system for making evidence-based policy options, the setting up of a regulatory framework for traditional Chinese medicine, and the establishment and strengthening of local and international collaboration.

Dr Chan also successfully demonstrated her managerial skills in both financial and human resource management as the head of the Department of Health running a complex organisation which consisted of 7,000 staff with a diverse cultural and professional background and a budget of nearly half a billion US dollars a year.
In addition to serving the community of Hong Kong, Dr Chan was also very active in international public health work and in the work of the WHO. She regularly attended regional and international meetings to further collaboration in public health between Hong Kong and other Member States of the WHO and in particular, those in the Western Pacific Region. In 1992, she organized and managed the 43rd Session of the Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, World Health Organization. In 1998, she was elected the Chairperson of the 49th Session of the Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, World Health Organization. In 1999, she was elected the Vice-Chairperson of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Working Group of the World Health Organization. In 2002, she was responsible for organizing the WHO International Conference of Drug Regulatory Authorities hosted by China and held in Hong Kong.

Her work in public health has been recognized and appreciated internationally. In 1997 she was awarded an OBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. In the same year she was conferred, by distinction, Fellowship of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom. In 1999, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, conferred on her the Prince Mahidol Award in the field of public health for her leadership in the control of the outbreak of avian influenza in Hong Kong. In the same year she was granted an honorary degree of Doctor of Science, for her contribution to public health, by her alma mater, the University of Western Ontario, Canada.

Dr Chan received her B.A. and M.D. degrees from the University of Western Ontario, Canada in 1973 and 1977 respectively. She undertook postgraduate training in public health at the Singapore National University where she obtained her Master of Science degree in 1985. In 1991 she attended a full-time programme for management development at the Harvard Business School. She also attended training courses in Tsinghua University and the National School of Administration in Beijing, China in 1996 and 2000 respectively.
Dr Chan is fluent in English and Chinese. Born in Hong Kong in 1947, she is married with one son, and is in excellent health.

Employment History

2005 - present Assistant Director-General of Communicable Diseases and Representative of Director-General for Pandemic Influenza, World Health Organization

directing WHO's effort to support countries' pandemic preparedness and to co-ordinate global response to avian influenza outbreaks as well as other epidemics of communicable diseases
leading the work of WHO in communicable disease surveillance and response, neglected tropical diseases, and tropical disease research and training
2003 - 2005 Director, Department of Protection of the Human Environment, World Health Organization
directed WHO's work on healthy environments, collaborating with regional offices and other stakeholders
1994 - 2003 Director, Department of Health, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China
assisted the Government in formulation of health policies and strategies
administered public health regulations on food, drugs, tobacco control, Traditional Chinese medicine and private hospitals
led, directed and coordinated public health services for the territory
managed primary health care services of the Department of Health with 7,000 staff
1992 - 1994 Deputy Director, Department of Health, Hong Kong
assisted in the overall management of the Department including the formulation of policies and strategies for human resource management and health services administration
1989 - 1992 Assistant Director (Personal Health Services), Department of Health, Hong Kong
managed the implementation of services on health education, maternal and child health, family planning, general outpatient and community health services
1987 - 1989 Principal Medical Officer (Health Administration), Department of Health, Hong Kong
oversaw the administration of primary health care services and health personnel management
1985 - 1987 Senior Medical Officer (Family Health Services), Department of Health, Hong Kong
managed maternal and child health and family planning services
trained and supervised health personnel
1978 - 1985 Medical Officer (Maternal & Child Health Services), Department of Health, Hong Kong

International Health

2000-2002 World Health Organization International Conference for Drug Regulatory Authorities 2001 Planning Committee, Chairperson

2000 World Health Organization Guidelines on Methodologies for Research & Evaluation of Traditional Medicine, Chairperson

1999-2000 World Health Organization Working Group on Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Vice Chairperson

1999 Word Health Organization Western Pacific Region Ministerial Roundtable on Social Safety Net, Moderator

1998 World Health Organization, 49th Session of the Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, Chairperson

1992 World Health Organization, 43rd Session of the Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, Organizer

Educational Background

1966 - 1969 Northcote College of Education, Hong Kong

1970 - 1973 B.A. University of Western Ontario, Canada

1973 - 1977 M.D. University of Western Ontario, Canada

1977 - 1978 Rotating Internship, Victoria Hospital, London, Ontario, Canada

1984 - 1985 MSc (Public Health), National University of Singapore, Singapore

1991 Programme for Management Development, Harvard Business School,
Boston, USA

1996 China Studies Course, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

2000 Advanced China Studies Programme, National School of Administration, Beijing, China

Honours and Awards

1997 Fellowship of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine of the Royal Colleges of Physicians, United Kingdom

1997 Officer, Order of the British Empire, United Kingdom

1999 Prince Mahidol Award in Public Health, Thailand

  Copyright © 1998-2005,  Ministry of Foreign Affairs,  the People's Republic of China  
Contact us   Address: No. 2, Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Chaoyang District, Beijing, 100701 Tel:86-10-65961114