Accra, Jan 18, GNA - The 115th session of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) meeting in Geneva has appointed Dr Luis Gomes Sambo as the new WHO Regional Director for Africa. A citizen of Angola, Dr Sambo, 52, succeeds Gambian Surgeon, Dr Ebrahim Malick Samba, who retires on 31 January 2005 after serving in the position for 10 years.
Dr Sambo accepted the position and outlined the challenges to be tackled including the high prevalence of communicable diseases and especially of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, which he said were responsible for the low life expectancy in the African Region.
"The dynamism we are already witnessing at the country level provides us with the possibility of mainstreaming health into development efforts. The health component of NEPAD and the commitment by Member States to attain the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) constitute historical opportunities for governments, WHO and partners. It is, therefore, necessary to acknowledge the efforts so far made and to emphasize the need to follow up and reinforce action."
Regarding his new post as WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Sambo said: "I wish to express my sincere thanks to WHO Member States in the African Region, whose confidence in me led to my nomination."
Before his appointment, Dr Sambo worked with the WHO for 15 years, the last five as Director of Programme Management at the WHO Regional Office for Africa (AFRO). In this position, he was responsible for overseeing the WHO programme of technical cooperation with the 46 Member States in the WHO African Region.
Dr Sambo, who speaks English, French and Portuguese, is a public health expert with a broad experience in health policy and public health administration. He holds a medical degree from the University of Angola and the University of Lisbon and specialized in public health at the College of Post-Graduate Medicine, University of Angola.
He joined WHO in 1989 as Chief of the inter-country strategic support team in Harare, Zimbabwe. He later served as WHO Representative in Guinea-Bissau, as Regional Adviser to coordinate the health-for-all strategy and Director of the Division of Health Systems and Services Development at the Regional Office for Africa.
Before joining the WHO, Dr Sambo served his native Angola in various capacities as Vice-Minister of Health, Director of Health Services in the province of Cabinda and as Director of International Cooperation at the Ministry of Health in Luanda.
Dr Sambo assumes his new office on 1 February 2005 and is the fifth Regional Director for the WHO Africa Region. The others were Dr F. J. Cambounac from Portugal; Dr Alfred Quenum from Benin; Dr G. Monekosso from Cameroon and Dr Ebrahim Samba from The Gambia. AFRO was established in 1952.
The WHO African Region has an estimated population of 654 million in 46 Member States, all but one in Sub-Saharan Africa. They are Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, and the Republic of Congo.
The rest are Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea (Conakry), Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.