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U.K. candidate, David Nabarro, promises shake-up in WHO


David Nabarro

David Nabarro, the United Kingdom (U.K.) candidate for this month’s crucial election as Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has promised to target 50 percent female representation including in senior roles at the organisation.

Nabarro said WHO “countries should rightly expect to see a return on their investment” and a strong focus on technology and digital under his leadership.On day in charge of the World Health Organization, he vowed to start changing the culture and the way of working in Geneva and across the world.

A statement by Joseph Abuku of the Press and Public Affairs section of the UK Embassy assures that “with a big drive on transparency and accountability, Dr Nabarro aims to improve trust in the WHO and ultimately, performance”.


Nabarro has outlined his proposed changes to include more accountability for the WHO team; transforming human resources and embracing modern technology to improve transparency and create a truly digital WHO while also focusing on catalytic partnerships.

The WHO supports the efforts of the 194 national governments that are responsible for the health of seven billion people across the world. People’s lives depend on the global standards set by WHO and the quality of the support it provides to countries.

The UK candidate for the election which holds later this month says he wants a better geographical and gender representation across all levels of the organization. Many regions are underrepresented and Nabarro said he is committed to improving that. At last count, women accounted for 42.8 per cent of staff in the professional and higher categories, representing a 2.4 per cent increase in three years since December 2013. This is positive but Nabarro, in a strong commitment to equality, will aim to have 50 per cent of senior roles filled by women by 2022. To support this, he will take a fully transparent approach to roles, responsibilities and salaries.

Naborro declares that “I will make our goals public and transparent and ensure thorough reporting on progress and results. I will make use of technology, such as apps and other digital tools to demonstrate how health outcomes for people are improved”

“Countries should rightly expect to see a return on their investment. Transparency and accountability builds trust and ultimately increases performance. Staff will complete reviews of all activities with all work clearly benchmarked. I will sharpen lines of authority and if there is a problem I will know about it and fix it quickly.”

Throughout the campaign, Nabarro has championed a catalytic approach to working and is clear that investors including donors and governments need to see value for money. This will pave the way for short term increases in WHO’s income as well as helping to improve its longer term financial stability.

Nabarro intends to lead a collaborative organisation that works in partnership with governments, the private sector, professional organizations Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and health and scientific experts.


Nabarro has over 40 years of experience working in international public health as practitioner, educator and public servant. His previous roles include Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Food Security and Nutrition.

He was Chair, Advisory Group on Reform of the World Health Organization’s work in outbreaks and emergencies with Health and humanitarian consequences. Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on Ebola,Coordinator of the Movement to Scale Up Nutrition.

Nabarro was the first candidate to publish his campaign finances in 2016 and it is with this transparent, accountable approach he promises to lead the WHO if elected.

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