Margaret Chan

Director-General of the World Health Organization
There are two things that I feel very happy about from my tenure as Director of Health in Hong Kong: we introduced primary health care and preventive services from conception to old age; and we worked with herbalists to put traditional Chinese medicine on a firm footing of promotion, development and regulation.

Margaret Chan OBE, MD, JP (born August 21, 1947 in Hong Kong) was the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) from 2006 to 2017. Chan has previously served as Director of Health in the Hong Kong Government (1994–2003) and WHO Assistant Director-General for Communicable Diseases (2003–2006).

QuotesEdit

  • Children's health depends on the mothers, so if we can scale up the achievement of the MDGs, it would benefit people in Africa. We should also look at how we can empower women to leverage their resources and their creativity and become change agents. We have seen example after example where women who are appropriately motivated and given the right environment can make changes, not only to themselves but also to their families and their communities.
  • There are two things that I feel very happy about from my tenure as Director of Health in Hong Kong: we introduced primary health care and preventive services from conception to old age; and we worked with herbalists to put Traditional Chinese Medicine on a firm footing of promotion, development and regulation.
  • I want to remind governments in every country of the range and force of counter-tactics used by the tobacco industry – an industry that has much money and no qualms about using it in the most devious ways imaginable.
  • Health systems are social institutions. They do far more for society than deliver babies and pills, like a post office delivering parcels. Properly managed and adequately financed, a fair and equitable health system contributes to social cohesion and stability.
  • In my view, the best way is to go back to the basics: the values, principles, and approaches of primary health care. Abundant evidence, over decades of experience, supports this view. Countries at similar levels of socioeconomic development achieve better health outcomes for the money when services are organized according to the principles of primary health care.
  • The reduction of poverty is the over-arching objective of the MDGs. Progress is not measured by national or global averages, but by how well the health of the poor improves. If we miss the poor, we miss the point. A health system that lacks commodities for managing high-mortality infectious diseases and the main killers of mothers and young children will not have an adequate impact.
  • Efforts to prevent noncommunicable diseases go against the business interests of powerful economic operators. In my view, this is one of the biggest challenges facing health promotion. [...] it is not just Big Tobacco anymore. Public health must also contend with Big Food, Big Soda, and Big Alcohol. All of these industries fear regulation, and protect themselves by using the same tactics. Research has documented these tactics well. They include front groups, lobbies, promises of self-regulation, lawsuits, and industry-funded research that confuses the evidence and keeps the public in doubt. Tactics also include gifts, grants, and contributions to worthy causes that cast these industries as respectable corporate citizens in the eyes of politicians and the public. They include arguments that place the responsibility for harm to health on individuals, and portray government actions as interference in personal liberties and free choice. This is formidable opposition. [...] When industry is involved in policy-making, rest assured that the most effective control measures will be downplayed or left out entirely. This, too, is well documented, and dangerous. In the view of WHO, the formulation of health policies must be protected from distortion by commercial or vested interests.

External linksEdit

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