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WHO’s China Chief Henk Bekedam Leaving

by Fred Fortin

Just saw this brief in the WSJ that Henk Bekedam is stepping down from his post and moving on to another WHO assignment after five years on the job in Beijing. I was greatly impressed when I met Bekedam a few years ago in discussions on the development of private health care insurance in China. He was knowledgeable, straight forward and committed. Bekedam was also outspoken and an important voice in addressing some of China’s most challenging health crises — SARS, avian flu, HIV, and smoking. While not afraid to weigh in when China’s response to these challenges was not what it should be, he still garnered respect. It was reported that a senior official within the Chinese Ministry of Health who has worked with Bekedam over the years said that, despite occasional disagreements, the “two sides worked well together and ‘he has contributed a lot.’ The official said China’s minister of health had personally requested the WHO delay his new appointment.”

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