Poonam Khetrapal Singh

Regional Director
WHO South-East Asia Region


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. Prior to that she served for over two decades as a civil servant in India as a member of the Indian Administrative Services and was the Health Secretary of the State of Punjab. 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 Cluster. Since becoming Regional Director in 2014, Dr Khetrapal Singh has marshaled her full strategic acumen in service of the Regions Member States, which together account for more than a quarter of humanity. This can be witnessed in her decision to consult Member States on their priorities and challenges and with their further input develop a series of Flagship Priority Programmes that have since been pursued with tenacity and high-level resolve, and which have borne many successes. In 2019 she got nominated 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 Regions 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.