Dr.Saima Wazed, daughter of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, secured victory as the nominee for the World Health Organization’s regional director for South-East Asia. The announcement came after a notable competition against Nepal’s candidate, Dr. Shambhu Acharya, a veteran in the WHO director-general’s office since 2013.
Expressing gratitude on the social media platform X, Wazed conveyed, “Thank you to @WHOSEARO Member States for choosing me to be their next Regional Director! I would like to pay tribute to our outgoing RD, Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, for her decade of service to the public health of our region. A special tribute as well for my fellow nominee in this race, Dr. Acharya. In his long & distinguished career, he has been an invaluable asset to @WHO – and I hope our region will continue to benefit from his knowledge & experience. I look forward to building a healthier South-East Asia.”
Wazed’s official nomination is set to be presented during the WHO executive board meeting scheduled for January 2204, with her anticipated commencement in February. She will be succeeding India’s Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the inaugural woman to hold the position, serving two consecutive five-year terms.
Trained as a psychologist, Wazed has dedicated her efforts to the field of autism and neurodevelopmental disorders. Since 2012, she has chaired Bangladesh’s National Advisory Committee on Neurodevelopmental Disorders and served as a technical expert on autism and mental health disorders at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital since 2022. Additionally, she holds the position of chairperson at the Shuchona Foundation, actively engaged in advocacy, research, and capacity building for disabilities, neurodevelopmental disorders, and mental health.
Wazed envisions a collaborative effort in the South-East Asia region to enhance preparedness for future pandemics, emphasizing her commitment to the well-being of the diverse and populous region.