Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, an Indian national, became the first woman to assume the office of WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia on 1 February 2014. Dr Khetrapal Singh’s priority areas of work in the Region are:
• Addressing the persisting and emerging epidemiological and demographic challenges
• Promoting universal health coverage and robust health systems
• Strengthening emergency risk management for sustainable development
• Articulating a strong regional voice in the global health agenda
She served for over two decades as a civil servant in India as member of the Indian Administrative Services. She was the Health Secretary of the State of Punjab, with a population of 22 million and a health budget of US$ 350 million.
In 1987 she moved to the Health, Population and Nutrition Department of The World Bank. In 1998 she joined WHO headquarters as Executive Director, Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments Cluster, and a member of the HQ senior management. Dr Khetrapal Singh served as WHO Deputy Regional Director for the South-East Asia Region from 2000 to 2013. In February 2013, she joined the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Government of India as Advisor for International Health, where her principal task was to strengthen global health outcomes and provide guidance to the Ministry to take forward the international health agenda.