Saima Wazed has been nominated by the Government of Bangladesh for the post of Regional Director of World Health Organization’s (WHO) South-East Asia Region (SEARO).
WHO SEARO is one of the six regional offices of the WHO, composed of representatives of the member states.
Saima Wazed said, “I am deeply honoured to be nominated by the Government of Bangladesh for WHO SEARO Regional Director. If elected, I plan on working in close collaboration with the Member States to realize my vision for the public health policies and practices of our region. I believe in working in partnerships, and hearing from communities themselves to create lasting solutions that work from the ground up. This has characterized my work till date, and this is what I hope to bring to this role.”
Saima Wazed’s significant achievements include drafting three international resolutions that were subsequently adopted by member countries of the UN and WHO, addressing the Socioeconomic Needs of Individuals, Families and Societies Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders, Developmental Disorders and Associated Disabilities.
Saima Wazed is currently completing her doctoral studies at Barry University (USA) in Organizational Leadership. She has been an Advisor to the Director General of WHO on Mental Health and Autism since 2019, and is a member of WHO’s Expert Advisory Panel on Mental Health since 2014.
In August 2023 she was appointed as an Associate Fellow at the Global Health Program at Chatham House, where she has also been serving since 2022 as a Commissioner at the Commission for Universal Health.
Since 2020, she has served as Thematic Ambassador for Vulnerability for the Climate Vulnerable Forum, and from 2017 to 2019 was appointed as WHO SEARO’s Goodwill Ambassador for Autism.
In Bangladesh, she is the Chief Advisor for the National Mental Health Strategic Plan 2020-2025, and since 2012 has been Chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Autism and NDDs.
Her current academic and training work includes being Adjunct Faculty at Barry University in the USA, Visiting Faculty at Dhaka University, Visiting Specialist at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital, and Visiting Faculty at the National Institute of Mental Health in Dhaka.
She has been invited to speak at several high-level conferences and events around the world, including side events at the UN General Assembly in the USA, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda, the World Assembly of Women in Japan, COP26 and 27 in Scotland and Egypt respectively, UNESCO’s High Level Roundtable in Sri Lanka, the Global Child Nutrition Forum in Cambodia, the World Economic Forum in India, the World Congress of Psychiatry in Portugal, and others.
She is a licensed school psychologist, having worked in the public school system of Orange County and Duval County, in Florida (USA) for over three years.
Over her years of service, she has received a number of international awards, including a citation for Excellence in Public Health by WHO SEARO, the Distinguished Alumni Award by Barry University in the USA, International Champion Award by Shema Kolainu in the USA, and was listed by Columbia University as an Innovative (Women) Leader in Global Mental Health.
The Government of Nepal has nominated its candidate alongside Bangladesh for the post.
The Regional Director will be voted on by the eleven WHO SEARO member states: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.