Pakistani Doctor Ready to Take on The World

Written by Pliro
Feb 1, 2017 Last updated: Feb 7, 2017


Dr Sania Nishtar, from Peshawar, is one of the leading candidates for the Director General of World Health Organisation (WHO). Her immense professional background in the physician cardiology department is what makes her such a strong contender at the age of 53. For this reason, she is among the three finalists who are representing their countries in the United Nations.

Presently, Dr. Nishtar has successfully secured 28 out of 34 votes and is running alongside Dr David Nabarro from UK and Ethiopian politician, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The winning Director General is to be announced at the World Health Assembly (WHA) where 196 member states will vote in May 2017.


Dr. Nishtar’s accomplishments display a variety of services paid in the governmental and non-governmental sectors in the country. Moreover, her expansive skill-set and vast experience has allowed her to transform her work into helping millions of people in her country.

She graduated from Khyber Medical College in 1986 to become one of the top 20 female Muslims scientists in 2014. She has been bestowed the title of Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 2005, along with a wide range of honors and awards. In addition, she gave up her cardiology practice in 2000 and came up with innovative ideas to help those who couldn’t afford proper health care. She received her Phd in medicine at Kings College London in 2002.


In 2003, Dr Nishtar headed the departments of health, science & technology and higher education by serving as federal minister in the caretaker government. Furthermore, she remained influential in re-establishing Pakistan’s Ministry of Health with her far-reaching knowledge in the sector. Her contributions in the national commissions, public sector boards, restructuring committees and reform task forces all add to her tremendous list of experiences.

In addition, she is the founder of the globally recognized NGO, Heartfile. Heartfile is considered a dominant voice in health policy of Pakistan. Presently, Heartfile Health is financing an initiative to support Universal Health Coverage in mixed health systems.

Dr Nishtar is currently the chair of UN Secretary General’s independent accountability panel for women, children, and adolescent health’s global strategy. She holds a strong position when it comes to global health in multilateral systems and is co-chair of the WHO commission on ending childhood obesity.

The multi-talented Pakistani doctor is also a physician scientist and author of several books on health issues. She has written Pakistan’s first compendium of health statistics. Additionally, she has authored the country’s first national public health plan for Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases and Health Promotion.


Firstly, Dr Nishtar aims to uphold the voice of underprivileged in Pakistan. She is a true visionary in terms of bringing reforms in the healthcare sector. Her organization is utilizing the mobile phone technology to help and save lives. This helps doctors verify a patient’s income and provide medical care to deserving candidates within 72 hours.

Secondly, the Ministry of National Health and Services (NHS) reported several facts about Dr. Nishtar in an interview with The Nation. “Her program of bringing reforms in WHO was appreciated globally giving her lead on other contestants,” said official.

By and large, Dr Nishtar has stressed the importance of transparency and accountability in all areas of work. She vowed to make electoral campaign financing a matter of public record and scrutiny. Per her program, WHO leadership will focus on fulfilling the mandate of the organization. It will continue to develop the financial, technical, institutional and technological aspects of health care. These will be based on the capacity to detect, lead, manage and coordinate the response to outbreak health consequences. All in all, her program focuses on supporting countries to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Additionally, she intends to work to eradicate life threatening diseases. She focuses on adaptation support to end climate change by capitalizing on co-benefits of action for health. Dr. Nishtar has expressed her commitment to fasten the pace of reforms at WHO to tackle systematic constraints. Her aim is to introduce result oriented management systems.

Finally, she hopes to promote partnership culture to develop institutional capability of WHO in her reforms program. Her idea is to launch new models of financing. These will help the organization in striving a budget proportionate to its scope of responsibility.


The government of Pakistan considers Dr. Nishtar the perfect candidate for the position of Director Manager WHO. It states that “Dr Nishtar has a unique combination of experience as minister, civil society trailblazer, leader in multilateral institutions, physician scientist, thought leader, and founder of institutions”.

Meanwhile, Minister NHS Saira Afzal Tarar expressed her views. She says, “Pakistan’s victory at WHO election reflects the growing confidence of world on our country.”

Therefore, Dr Sania Nishtar is currently seen as the best for this prestigious position. Her experiences and services render her the most qualified for the job.