Saima Wazed takes charge as WHO director for South-East Asia

She will oversee the implementation of international health programme in 11 South-East Asian countries with a combined population of around 2 billion

Published : 2 Feb 2024, 06:18 AM
Updated : 2 Feb 2024, 06:18 AM

Saima Wazed, the daughter of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has taken office as the World Health Organization's regional director for South-East Asia for the next five years.

She is the first Bangladeshi to head the international health programme in the region, comprising 11 countries with a combined population of around 2 billion people.

In a social media post, the SEARO said Saima assumed office on Thursday and thanked all of the member countries for entrusting her with the responsibility.

She also listed some of her top priorities that include mental health, interventions for women and children, and optimising technology for health.

Saima, who has spearheaded mental health campaigns across the world as a WHO expert, was nominated for the post on Nov 1, 2023.

Member states, including Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand, voted to nominate Saima during a closed meeting at the 76th session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia in New Delhi.

She also serves as the chairperson of Bangladesh's National Advisory Committee on Autism and Neurodevelopmental disorders.

Saima completed her undergraduate degree in psychology at Barry University in Florida, US, in 1997. In 2002, she earned her post-graduate degree in clinical psychology, followed by an expert degree in school psychology in 2004.

Recognising her contributions, the WHO honoured her with the South-East Asia Region Award for Excellence in Public Health in 2016.

She is also a trustee of the Centre for Research and Information (CRI), the research wing of the ruling Awami League.