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. Before WHO, as Member of the Indian Administrative Services, she served as Health Secretary Punjab, India.
In 1987 Dr. Khetrapal Singh 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. Since becoming Regional Director, Dr. Khetrapal Singh has marshaled her full strategic acumen in service of the Region’s Member States, which together account for more than a quarter of humanity. This can be witnessed in her development of 8 Flagship Priority Programmes that have since been pursued with tenacity and high-level resolve and which have borne many successes.
In 2019 she was re-selected unanimously for a second term as Regional Director. While continuing to pursue the Flagship Priorities, Dr. Khetrapal Singh has articulated the strategic axes on which her vision for the Region hinges. These include sustaining the Region’s many gains, accelerating progress, and harnessing the full power of innovation to ensure all people everywhere can access the services they need, without facing financial hardship.