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At the age of five, he marched miles through cold winter weather with his mother and two brothers to join his civil servant father in exile during the Korean war. At 31, he took a medical degree at Seoul National University, and went on to take an MA in public health at the University of Hawaii, believing that he could be more useful in that sphere. He joined the WHO in as a leprosy consultant, and remained with it for the rest of his career.

In , he became head of polio eradication in the western Pacific region, where he oversaw a reduction in cases from nearly 6, to Four years later, he moved to Geneva as director of the WHO vaccines and immunisation programme.


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His reputation as a strong leader grew; he reformed the department and worked more closely with industry to develop new vaccines. In he became a senior policy advisor to the director general, closely involved in WHO reforms, before becoming director of the tuberculosis department in Earlier this year, he put Arata Kochi in charge of the WHO malaria department with an explicit brief to shake things up.

Kochi, with Lee's blessing, began with public warnings to the drug companies to sell the new artimisinin drugs for malaria only in combination with older drugs, to prevent resistance developing and preserve their potency. He identified the three by five campaigns as a major achievement of Dr. Highlights of Dr. Jong-Wook's achievements during his year service including a three-year stint as Director-General at the agency, were catalogued in a tribute issued by WHO's communication's officer, Christine McNab.

Jong-Wook Lee

His only son Tadahiro, said of him "my father was a man of action, whose adventurous spirit led him to experience more, see more and do more. Bush said, "Dr. He provided tremendous leadership to the international community as it confronted the challenges of the 21st century, including the threat of an influenza pandemic. Lee's outreach to world leaders and entities increased awareness of potentially devastating public health dangers.

LEE Jong-wook. TAG expresses its solidarity with all those who are mourning the loss of this transformative leader in the world's struggle against AIDS. Unusually among global leaders, Dr. Under his watch, and with his whole support, WHO took a leading role in guiding the response to the pandemic. So we will keep fighting and we will do it much better! We want to say: Thank you very much dear Dr. We will remember you! He wanted change to take place on the ground.

He travelled great distances, to more than 60 countries in three years.

And he would never hesitate to travel the distance across the floor to take the hand of a child who was sick. His work has touched millions, and has made their lives better.


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His compassion, allied with his trademark affability, made him cherished by people everywhere. Dr Lee's vision for a world without disease or ill health will not be lost. He was a rare individual who was devoted to public service through effective public health programmes.

Nigeria: WHO After Lee Jong-Wook

An intense, daring, and accomplished person, he inspired us through his grace, humility and vision for a better world. He has been a strong supporter of the effort to eradicate Guinea worm disease as one way to improve the human condition. I was pleased to welcome him to The Carter Center in September and to have him join me on the follow-up visit to Ghana in February Dr Lee's death is a personal loss for Rosalynn and me and a tragic loss for the whole world. Lynda, Baroness Chalker of Wallesey, Chairman, Medicines for Malaria Venture said the world has lost a great man and a passionate advocate for global health.

Applying science to alleviate people’s suffering is my aim, says

Just hours before he fell ill, Dr Lee gave an impassioned talk at a meeting on malaria where he spoke about World Health Organization's leadership role in raising the malaria issue to the top of the political agenda and shared his vision of universal access to antimalarial drugs. He spoke from his heart about how the lives of the poorest at risk of this deadly disease are dependent on the work of WHO, MMV and others.

He inspired all of us to look beyond our daily work and see the success we can achive as a community when we all work together. Dr Lee was a strong voice for all those that are voiceless and advocate on behalf of all under-privileged.

Dr. Lee Jong Wook, 61, World Public Health Leader, Dies

We will miss his wisdom, vision and unparalleled leadership. Lee was one of the greatest forces for good health, will be remembered for his commitment to help all people attain the highest possible level of health. With the threats to global health that the world faces, the loss of Dr Lee - the leader, the humanitarian, the policymaker - will be greatly felt not only by the UN family, but by the whole world. Dr Julian Lob-Levyt, Executive Secretary, GAVI Alliance described him as an early advocate for taking an open approach to working with the vaccine industry, an approach adopted by the GAVI Alliance and one which has led to an increase in the number of suppliers of vaccines needed in the developing world.

His term was to expire in Anders Nordstrom, an assistant director, will serve as interim director general. Lee had been "a strong voice for the right of every man, woman and child to health prevention and care, and advocated on behalf of the very poorest people. Lee on tuberculosis , said that Dr.

Lee "may not have been smooth or highly articulate, but he was enormously effective in getting his goals accomplished. A number of other public health experts, however, said yesterday that Dr. Lee's tenure had not been as successful as they had hoped. On taking office, he championed an AIDS treatment program known as "3 by 5.

[Editorial] WHO director-general Lee Jong-wook : Editorial & Opinion : News : The Hankyoreh

The effort fell short of its goal by about a third. But Dr. William H. Foege, an international expert in public health, said the failure to achieve the "3 by 5" goal was "insignificant compared to the courage of promoting a vision of what the world should be doing. Lee later urged governments and private organizations to make anti-H. He also encouraged health ministers to explore the role of social factors like illiteracy, poverty, and unemployment in engendering poor health, Dr.

Foege said. Lee directed programs to rid many countries of polio and had hoped to eradicate it. That goal, too, has proved elusive, largely because the disease spread from Nigeria to 23 other countries after officials in the northern province of Kano temporarily banned polio immunizations. View all New York Times newsletters. The World Health Organization was also saddled with low morale during Dr.

Lee's term.