At the seventh World Health Assembly on May 22-27 this year in Geneva, Switzerland, member states will vote in the next director-general for the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Health is one of the most precious things to us and our families.
Today, on World Health Day, we can reflect on the achievements we have made as a global community to tackle big health threats and protect ourselves from killer diseases.
And we can reflect on the progress Malawi has made: the proportion of children dying before their fifth birthday has more than halved in the past 20 years and the number of women dying in child birth has more than halved since 2000.
More than half a million Malawians are now on a highly successful life-saving HIV treatment programme.
Further successes are on the way: with support from the UK, Malawi has just eliminated trachoma in Kasungu district and hopes to have eliminated the disease and the terrible blindness nationwide in a few years.
These great successes show what can be achieved by combining expertise, resources and working in partnership.
When governments want to share their experience of responding to health issues, they engage with the WHO. They seek advice and assistance when they need help.
WHO’s role in providing technical advice and setting global standards for best practice in health care and the prevention of disease has been crucial in all the examples above, but it can do more and do it better.
WHO director-general is responsible for directing the WHO as it undertakes actions that impact on the health and well-being of billions of people.
It helps countries work out how best to organise health services for their people and to respond to infectious disease outbreaks.
It adapts its responses to the circumstances of each country: this is not an easy task, given that each country has very different needs.
It feels to me as though I have been in training to become Director-General of WHO for my entire life. Over my 40-year career, I have learnt a lot from my medical colleagues on the frontline and my time in the UN and multilateral system.
During my recent trip to Johannesburg, I was reminded of the terrible links between HIV and tuberculosis, made all the more challenging by increasing antibiotic resistance. But I saw great work being done to tackle these illnesses.
I have a deep ambition to help people and to ensure they achieve their full potential.
This is what has inspired me to work in more than 50 countries. I am motivated to work for people, especially those most in need, by every patient I have ever treated and by every community that I have served.
This ambition to serve those in need has stayed with me throughout my life.
WHO director-general is a challenging and important role. It matters to everyone throughout our world, including Malawi.
Malawi has made great progress in improving the health of its people, but poor health remains a major driver of poverty here.
A healthy, well-educated population is critical for Malawi’s growth and development.
As director-general of WHO, I want to see the UN agency play a strong role in contributing to Malawi’s future successes. It is a vital organisation for a healthy world and I am passionate about ensuring that it can deliver results for the people of Malawi.