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Dr Jaouad Mahjour, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean a.i. 

Dr Jaouad Mahjour served as acting WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean from October 2017, following the untimely death of Dr M Fikri, to 1 June 2018. He also held the position of the Director of Programme Management.

Prior to assuming his position as Director of Programme Management in October 2014, Dr Mahjour was appointed as WHO Representative to Lebanon from January 2005 until 15 September 2007. Effective 15 September, he was reassigned to the position of Director, Communicable Disease Control.

Dr Mahjour is a public health specialist with over 30 years of experience in designing, implementing and evaluating diseases control programmes at national and international levels. Over the last 10 years, Dr Mahjour has been supervising implementation of International Health Regulations 2005 capacities in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region. He has also been in charge of the health security and outbreak prevention and control programme in the Region.

Before joining WHO, Dr Mahjour was the Director of Epidemiology and Diseases Control in the Ministry of Health of Morocco from 1994, in charge of designing and implementing diseases control programmes and with his team developed national and regional systems to reinforce communicable diseases surveillance, alert and response. Prior to which he was the Head of the Division of Communicable Diseases in the Directorate of Epidemiology and Health Programmes (1992–1994).

From 1988 to 1992 he was the Chief of Parasitic Diseases Control Service at the same Directorate of Epidemiology and Health Programmes. From 1983 to 1988 he was Head of Primary Health Centre in the province of Beni Mellal.

Dr Mahjour holds a Doctorate in Medicine from the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Rabat, and a Master's Degree in Public Health.

Dr Mahmoud Fikri 

Dr Mahmoud Fikri served as Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean from 1 February 2017 until his untimely death on 17 October 2017.  

Dr Fikri was adviser to the Minister of Health of United Arab Emirates, and was previously the Assistant-Undersecretary for Preventive Medicine and Health Policies Affairs in the Ministry (1995–2013). He served as a Member of the Board of Directors of the WHO Centre for Health Development, “WHO Kobe Centre”, Japan, and a Member of the Advisory Board of the Gulf Health Council for Cooperation Council States (1996–2005). He was also a member of WHO's Executive Board from 1997 to 2000.  

For 19 years, Dr Fikri had been either a member or the head of the United Arab Emirate's Ministry of Health delegation to WHO's Health Assembly and the Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean.

Dr Fikri was a Member of the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) Advisory Group during the period (2008–2011) when the open-ended working group of Member States worked to finalize the PIP Framework for sharing influenza viruses and access to vaccines and other benefits.

He was responsible for upgrading and adapting the national immunization programme of the United Arab Emirates in line with the Expanded Programme on Immunization of WHO. Due to these efforts, the United Arab Emirates has achieved polio- and malaria-free status.

Dr Fikri was a Member of the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs Standing Committee entrusted with the follow up of the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights report (2009–2013) and a member of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (2007–2013).

He was head of the United Arab Emirate's Ministry of Health delegation to the United Nations High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (2011).

Dr Fikri graduated in medicine and surgery from the University of Ain Shams, Egypt in 1979. He obtained a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, in the United Kingdom, in 1984. He was a member of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians in the UK, in 2000, and holder of a PHD in Medicine from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Carol Devila, Romania. 

Dr Ala Alwan

A native of Iraq, Dr Alwan graduated in medicine from the University of Alexandria, Egypt. He practised medicine in Scotland and obtained his postgraduate training and qualifications in the United Kingdom. Following his return to Iraq, he held several positions in clinical and academic medicine and public health. He was Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Mustansiriya University, Baghdad, Iraq.

In 1992, he joined the Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean as Regional Adviser for Noncommunicable Diseases. He then served as WHO Representative in Oman, and Director, Division of Health Systems Development in the Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean. In 1998, Dr Alwan moved to WHO headquarters as Director for Noncommunicable Diseases Prevention and then Director of the Department of Noncommunicable Diseases Management. In 2001, he became WHO Representative in Jordan. From 2003 to 2005, he was Minister of Education and Minister of Health in the Government of Iraq. From 2005 to January 2008, he was Representative of the Director-General and Assistant Director-General for Health Action in Crises.

Dr Alwan was appointed as Regional Director by the WHO Executive Board at its 130th session in January 2012. In his acceptance speech, Dr Alwan drew attention to the current challenges facing the Region. “This is a region with considerable health, socioeconomic and political challenges as well as diverse needs. But it is also a region with solid historical achievements and great promise,” said Dr Alwan. “I will focus on achieving the results that we, collectively, know are essential, especially in tackling the health challenges impacting the region during the current economic and political climate.”

Dr Hussein A. Gezairy, Regional Director Emeritus

Dr Hussein A. Gezairy served as Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean from 1982 to 2012.

His term of office ended on 31 January 2012. At the 58th Session of the Regional Committee in October 2011, the Regional Committee recognized Dr Gezairy “for his dedicated leadership and invaluable contribution to health development in the Eastern Mediterranean Region” and made him Regional Director Emeritus. 

During his tenure, Dr Gezairy promoted and fostered a close working relationship with national and international and partners in the health and development sectors to advance the cause of health and development of the population in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

Dr Gezairy joined WHO as Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean in 1982. As Regional Director, Dr Gezairy placed major focus on poverty reduction and health development through community-based initiatives. He also stressed the importance of noncommunicable diseases, and identified the Tobacco-Free Initiative as a priority programme in the Region. Dr Gezairy was a driving force behind the establishment of the Global Arabic Programme, which provides health workers, professionals and the public with critical health and biomedical information in Arabic.

Dr Gezairy is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in England. In 1969 he established and became founding Dean of the first Faculty of Medicine in his home country, Saudi Arabia, at King Saud University in Riyadh. Dr Gezairy was appointed Minister of Health of Saudi Arabia in 1975. Under his leadership, three more medical faculties were established, fulfilling the medical education needs of Saudi Arabia, and primary health care services were expanded throughout the country.

Dr Abdul Hussein Taba

Dr Abdul Hussein Taba of the Islamic Republic of Iran served as Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean from 1957 to 1982. Dr Taba was a medical graduate of the University of Birmingham and held post-graduate degrees in medicine and surgery from the universities of London and Paris. A former Director-General of Health of Iran, he was head of the Iranian delegation to the third, fourth and fifth World Health Assemblies. During his 25 years as Regional Director, Dr Taba maintained a steady focus on developing the health workforce and health services in the Region. In 1978 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship in the Royal Society of Medicine in London, and was introduced as “WHO’s most respected statesman…crucial in promoting a unified approach to world health problems.”

Sir Aly Tewfik Shousha

Dr Aly Tewfik Shousha of Egypt was the first Director of the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean. Dr Shousha received a degree in medicine from the University of Berlin and a post-graduate degree in bacteriology from the University of Zurich. A former Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Health of Egypt, Dr Shousha played an integral role in the shaping the early development of the World Health Organization. He was a key member of the Technical Preparatory Committee of WHO and took part in the formulation of WHO’s Constitution. Dr Shousha served as Regional Director from 1 July 1949 until his retirement in 1957. In 1966, the AT Shousha Foundation was established in his memory. An annual prize is awarded by the Foundation to persons contributing to improving health in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

In 1948, Dr Shousha was awarded an honoury knighthood by King George VI of the United Kingdom.