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W.H.O Chief Hurt by Ebola Response

Somini Sengupta | The New York Times   in 
January 7, 2015

GENEVA — Under a stormy sky, on a boat to a G-8 summit meeting, a media-savvy Hong Kong pediatrician named Margaret Chan first met her country’s president, Hu Jintao. In a preview of the political maneuvering to come, he told her privately that China was considering backing her for the top post at the World Health Organization.

It was Beijing’s first bid to place one of its own at the head of an international agency, a signal of China’s global rise. And it worked. A few months after, in late 2006, Dr. Chan won enough votes among the organization’s 194 member states — by secret ballot, as always — to become its chief.

In what seemed a deft political move, she publicly promised to make Africa, which controls a fourth of those votes, one of her top priorities. President Hu, who was aggressively courting the continent for its resources, summed up the agency’s importance by invoking what she said was a Chinese saying.


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