Dr Samba thanks African Ministers for successful Regional Committee meeting

Dr Samba thanks African Ministers for successful Regional Committee meeting

Brazzaville, 20 September 2004-- The out-going WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Ebrahim Samba, has expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the just-concluded 54th session of the Regional Committee meeting in Brazzaville, which nominated Dr Luis Sambo of Angola to succeed him early next year.

"The nomination exercise was a model of orderliness and transparency with the winning candidate collecting a clear 32 votes during the first round of balloting," Dr Samba told reporters in the Congolese capital on Saturday.

The other contestants were Dr Deogratias Barakamfitiye of Burundi who got 7 votes, Dr Francis Omaswa of Uganda who got four votes and Dr Phetsile Dlamini of Swaziland who got two votes. Forty five of the 46 Member States of WHO in the African Region voted for the nomination of the new Regional Director-designate as Liberia, the 46th Member State, was not represented at the five-day meeting.

Dr Samba paid tribute to Ministers who attended the meeting for the quality of the decisions they took, including the nomination of his successor and the adoption of pertinent resolutions that will help improve the health situation in the region.

He expressed gratitude to participants at the meeting for designating him Regional Director Emeritus and pledged to continue to serve Africa even in retirement.

In response to a question, Dr samba said: "Yes, I will be retiring in January 2005 but I have given my successor a carte blanche to call on me to provide "free non-remunerative services" as he deems fit

"My passion over the 40 years I have served in public health administration has been to serve Africa and I will continue to do so at no cost to WHO when I return to take a well-deserved rest in The Gambia in January 2005."

It will be recalled that early this year, Dr Samba had told WHO Director General, Dr Jong-wook Lee during a WHO Executive Board retreat in Accra, Ghana, that he would be available to provide free service to Africa especially in the area of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care. Dr Samba repeated the same offer during a meeting in December 2003 in Nairobi with Kenya's Health Minister, Mrs Charity Ngilu.

Dr Samba served two terms as WHO Regional Director for Africa (1994-2004) after a 14-year stint as Director of the defunct Ouagadougou-based Onchocerciasis Control Programme. His tenure at OCP saw the elimination of river blindness as a public health problem in eleven previously oncho-endemic countries in West Africa.

The Regional Director-designated is expected to assume his post on 1 February 2005 after his nomination has been ratified by the WHO Executive Board which meets in January 2005.

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