Margaret Chan

Women in STEM
Women in STEM
Margaret Chan

Birth: 1947

Specialty: Medicine

Major Contributions:

Former Director of Health of Hong Kong

Former Director-General, World Health Organization

Dean of Vanke School of Public Health, Tsinghua University , China

Image Courtesy of The World Economic Forum (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 DEED)

Dr. Margaret Chan is an Emeritus  Director-General of the World Health Organization, elected to the position in 2006 and again in 2012. Though she is from the People’s Republic of China, she was educated at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, earning her BA and then her medical degree in 1973 and 1977, respectively. She began her career at the Hong Kong Department of Health in 1978. While there, she studied at Singapore National University, earning a master’s degree in public health in 1985.

In 1994, Dr. Chan was appointed Director of Health of Hong Kong, a position she held for nine years. As director, she launched new services to prevent the spread of disease and promote better overall health, introduced new initiatives to improve disease surveillance and response, enhanced training for public health professionals, and established better local and international collaboration. She had to handle several major public health crises during her tenure, including outbreaks of H5:N1 avian influenza in 1997 and severe acute respiratory syndrome (or SARS) in 2003.

In late 2003, Dr. Chan joined the WHO as Director of the Department for Protection of the Human Environment and held several positions before she became the second female Director-General of the WHO. Dr. Chan faced a major challenge in 2015 during the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.  Despite nearly a decade of preparedness efforts, the outbreak highlighted gaps in the global community’s ability to respond to a major pandemic.

In a 2015 interview for NOVA, Dr. Chan had this to say, “The world needs to prepare itself for future pandemics. … We are better prepared than we were a year ago, but we still need to do more. … Everyone needs to remember that Ebola was not a worst-case scenario. … I am personally overseeing changes that include the establishment of a global health emergency workforce.”

After two terms as Director General Dr. Chan left the WHO in 2017 and in 2020 was appointed the inaugural Dean of Vanke School of Public Health, Tsinghua University, China.

Written by Nicole Hutchison


WHO: Dr. Margaret Chan

Margaret Chan: Wikipedia

Margaret CHAN

Are We Prepared? An Exclusive Interview with WHO Director-General Margaret Chan (NOVA)

See Also:

Forbes The World’s Most Powerful People: #73 Margaret Chan

Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization

New Security Challenges in Asia – Chapter 6 – The 2009 H1N1 Flu Pandemic and the Policy Response in East Asia