Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh is a visionary. The first woman to become the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Regional Director for South-East Asia for two consecutive times, she is known for her contributions to revamp the healthcare scenario of the South-East Asia Region, which eventually emerged as the top performer in the organisation worldwide.
Dr Poonam, who has decades of experience in the healthcare sector, assumed the role of the Regional Director for South-East Asia first on February 1, 2014. In September 2018, she was unanimously nominated by the Member States for a second five-year term. A dynamic, analytical and result-oriented leader, she believes in working on ground to comprehend the situation well. This attitude has supported her in developing an eight-point strategy during her her tenure in WHO. The strategy focused on eight key areas such as ‘Measles elimination and rubella control by 2020’ and ‘efforts to end tuberculosis by 2030’. She has made substantial progress in each category, too.
For two decades, Dr Poonam served as the Joint-Secretary and Secretary of Health of Punjab. In 1987, she joined the Health, Population and Nutrition Department of the World Bank. In 1998, she moved to WHO headquarters as the Executive Director for Sustainable Development and Healthy Environment Cluster. From 2000-2013, Dr Poonam served as WHO Deputy Regional Director for the South-East Asia Region. In February 2013, she joined the Government of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as Advisor for International Health.