The head of the United Nations World Health Organization, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, announced today that she would not seek a second term next year when the UN agency is scheduled to choose its next leader.
"My decision to complete my work as Director-General at the end of my current term reflects the fact that I have had leading positions in political and public office for nearly 30 years, and would be 69 at the end of a second term," Dr. Brundtland said in a statement released in Geneva. "I will push ahead with our work every day that remains until July 2003 and I will continue to do everything I can to support the Organization and its noble cause in the future."
WHO's Executive Board is scheduled to nominate a candidate in January to lead the agency until July 2008. The election would take place at the World Health Assembly next May.
In her statement today, Dr. Brundtland said that she felt WHO made "significant and substantial" progress towards several objectives, including her vision of anchoring health firmly on the international development agenda.
Under her stewardship, the agency stressed the priority of improving the health of the poor, underlined the need for WHO to reach out and mobilize a range of partners, based on solid evidence, and set in motion a process of needed change and reform of the Organization.
"Throughout my term as Director-General I have had a perspective for our policies and work that goes beyond the limits of any term," Dr. Brundtland said. "I have been encouraged and supported by the outstanding dedication and efforts of WHO staff in Geneva and all our offices around the world. I want to express my appreciation to them all."