Civil society supports Dr Sania Nishtar’s bid for WHO DG


ISLAMABAD, May 9 (APP): Recognizing the need for urgent reforms at the World Health Organization (WHO), a conglomerate of civil society organizations from across Pakistan, has fully supported Dr Sania Nishtar’s candidacy as the next Director-General (DG) of WHO.
Spearheaded by LEAD Pakistan, about 122 civil society organizations have joined hands for Dr Sania Nishtar’s bid because of her vision for the World Health Organization.
These organizations included Aurat Foundation, Association for Community Development, Association for Gender Awareness and Human Empowerment, Aurat Foundation, Children’s Global Network, Community Development Foundation, Free and Fair Election Network, HANDS, Health, Education and Literacy Programme, Legal Rights Foundation, Rural Support Programme Network, World Wide Fund Pakistan, and others, a press release said on Tuesday.
In their joint declaration, the civil society members said Dr Nishtar’s leadership on the frontlines of health crises in Pakistan, firstly as a doctor and then subsequently in civil society, government and within international agencies meant that she is the only candidate who has ample relevant  experience and ambition to tackle global health crises as well.
“Pakistan’s civil society is united in their support of Dr Sania Nishtar and together urge member states across the world to elect her as the 8th Director-General of the World Health Organization,” it said.
Dr Sania Nishtar, on the occasion, said “At present, the world is struggling to respond effectively to the challenges of new disease outbreaks, antimicrobial resistance, childhood obesity, widening inequalities in health and other global health catastrophes.”
She thanked the civil society for rallying behind her candidacy and assured that their calls for reform are heard in the World Health Organization.
The civil society declaration enumerated that Dr Nishtar, during her previous tenure, had re-established the Federal Ministry of Health in less than 100 days which dramatically changed how the Government of Pakistan responds to tackling diseases.
As co-chair of the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, Dr Nishtar brought all the stakeholders together and negotiated a new path forward.
“Dr Nishtar is the one candidate in the race to say that the status quo isn’t working and reform is needed,” Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, CEO of LEAD Pakistan, said.
“In Pakistan, Dr Nishtar has a strong reputation for transparency, integrity and is a leader that actually delivers on her promises,” he added.
Shahnaz Wazir Ali, a development practitioner who serves on several boards such as LEAD and SPDC, opined, “We are grateful for the work Dr Nishtar has done in Pakistan and we urge all member states to get behind her reform agenda and elect her to be the next Director-General of the World Health Organization.”
Khalida for SACH (Struggle for Change) lauded Dr Sania Nishtar’s contributions in the health sector.
She said Dr Nishtar could promote the global mandate of WHO in line with the ground realties of different regions.
Her work through Heartfile impacted tremendously on the health of vulnerable groups in Pakistan, she added.