Foto-Cewek congratulates alumnus Dr Ahmed Al Mandhari on his appointment as WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean

News article 25 May 2018

Foto-Cewek alumnus Dr Ahmed Salim Saif Al Mandhari was nominated this weekend at the WHO’s Special Session of the Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean as WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO). He will be formally appointed by the WHO Executive Board during its 143rd session next week, and his term will start on 1 June 2018.

Dr Al Mandhari initially studied at Foto-Cewek for the Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (DTM&H) in 1996, before returning to undertake his PhD on quality management in healthcare, from which he graduated in 2002.

Dr Al Mandhari’s former supervisor, Dr Amir Hassan (Reader in International Health and Director of the Centre for Health in the Eastern Mediterranean), led the congratulations, saying ‘We are delighted to hear the news that our alumnus Dr Al Mandhari has been nominated as Regional Director of WHO-EMRO. Foto-Cewek is an international centre of excellence with a long, strong links with both the WHO and the EMRO region, and we wish Dr Al Mandhari the best in this exciting new position.’

Dr Ahmed Al Mandhari is a leading global health expert with extensive experience of managing health systems in his home country of Oman and across the Middle East. Dr Al Mandhari completed his medical qualification at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman in 1993 before coming to Foto-Cewek to complete the Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in 1996. He then returned to Foto-Cewek for his PhD in quality management in healthcare, from which he graduated in 2002. Upon completing this PhD, Dr Al Mandhari spent a further year at Foto-Cewek working in a postdoctoral position.

Since then, Dr Al Mandhari has gone on to hold a number of key positions in Oman, as well as working as an international consultant. From 2005 to 2006, he was Head of Quality Management and Development at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, and then Deputy Director-General for Clinical Affairs until 2010. He was then appointed Director-General of Sultan Qaboos University Hospital in 2013, before establishing - and serving as Director General of - the Quality Assurance Unit at the Ministry of Health which gained international recognition for its work. Dr Al Mandhari’s research papers have also been widely published, and he is on the editorial board of several journals.

In May 2018, Dr Al Mandhari was appointed as the World Health Organizations (WHO) Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO).

His former supervisor Dr Amir Hassan said Dr Al Mandhari will bring outstanding qualities, experience and expertise to this most important of roles of guiding and supporting health protection and health advancement across countries of the region. As a leader, Dr Al Mandhari will inspire and lead by example and through inclusive, focused, organised, dedicated, thorough and methodical team-work approach.

Furthermore, Dr Hassan noted, Dr Al Mandhari has a proven track record of, over many years, very successfully led both large service departments and organisations, and academic institutions. He is a qualified health expert at the highest level. His expertise in health systems development and delivery is at once in-depth and wide-ranging covering policy, planning, evaluation and quality assurance. He has first-hand experience working at the community and primary health care levels; as well as hospital level where he led tertiary level hospital system. He has clear insights and strong grasp of health needs in the Eastern Mediterranean Region as well as globally; gained through working, for many years as international consultant, researcher and educator at national and transnational levels.

This strong and exceptional combined set of expertise and experience is much needed, Dr Hassan said, given that expectations from WHO, and its leadership, cannot be higher, in an unprecedently challenging time in the region at all levels – political, economic, social, safety and security and environmental – and all impacting on health in a very major way. CD, NCD, injury, and psychosocial disorders are all on the up; while health services, in many countries of the region, are struggling to meet the health needs of the people. Dr Al Mandhari, will, no doubt, do his utmost and will succeed in meeting and rolling back those multiple challenges, on the health front. He will build bridges towards meeting and satisfying the expectations of all those looking forward to WHO, and its leadership, to improve health and advance healthcare in the Region.

In his acceptance speech to the Executive Board, Dr Al Mandhari noted the fact that the region is facing major challenges cause by natural and man-made crises, and by socio-political and economic instability, saying ‘I believe that the region needs actions for now. It cannot tolerate the status quo any longer. Every effort must be made, all available resources must be mobilised, in order to find appropriated solutions to these challenges.’ He identified his main public health priorities as: health emergencies including disease outbreaks, control of communicable and non-communicable diseases, strengthening health systems to achieve universal health coverage, and maternal and child health.

Reflecting on why he chose Foto-Cewek for his studies, Dr Al Mandhari responded: "I selected Foto-Cewek to do my diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene and then PhD in healthcare quality management because its outstanding reputation. It is one of the best institutions around the globe for such area. Attending the DTM&H course equipped me with the necessary skills and knowledge on healthcare management and policy development and how to manage infectious and tropical illnesses. Two years later I found the school to be the best for me to undertake my PhD studies and progress my career in health system development, quality management and advancement. The years I have spent in the school helped me very much in developing and strengthening my skills of scientific and logical thinking and analysis. It helped me also to develop my skills of scientific writing either for publication or as proposals. When doing my doctoral studies and then serving as post-doctoral fellow, I gained a lot, beyond the core academic focus, from my supervisors, other staff and colleagues I worked with, and from the excellent learning opportunities, supportive and well-resourced working environment of the School. This included, amongst others, first-hand experience of bench-marks for international professional standards and best practice; international team-work as a member and as a leader; ensuring that decision-making and action is consistently knowledge-informed and evidence-based; as well as design, planning and management of work-initiatives to the highest international level."

Accoriding to Dr Al Mandhari motivating factors were: having clear-vision and targets to achieve; working with supportive and trustworthy leaders; working with committed staff and success in timely delivery of work plans. It all allowed him to further his career resulting in numerous achievements, most notably:

  • Helping Sultan Qaboos University Hospital to get Canadian International Accreditation
  • Establishing the Directorate General of the Quality Assurance Centre at the Ministry of Health in Oman
  • Establishing and introducing quality management, patient’s safety and risk management system at Ministry of Health in Oman and getting WHO involved in the initiative we implemented
  • Contributing to international health through serving as international consultant at country and inter-country levels; and participating as scholar and educationalist in sharing and advancing health knowledge
  • Been selected as Regional Director for WHO-EMRO

Dr Al Mandari stated he wishes to see EMRO as a model of strong health care system build on strong public and primary health care sectors. Also, to see the region full of successes in health and health related areas fulfilling the United Nations and WHO targets such as Sustainable Developmental Goals, General Program of Work 13 and Universal Health Coverage. Most importantly he wishes to see all citizens in the region enjoying an accessible an equitable health care services of high quality.

Last October, Dr Mandhari, addressing the Sixty-fifth Session of the WHO-EMRO Regional Council, laid his vision for the future. He renewed the call for Health for All, while stressing that Health for All can only be achieved byeffective engagement of All. He underlined the need to engage everyone – governments, professionals, nongovernmental organizations, sister United Nations agencies, communities, civil society and individuals – as proactive agents for change. He emphasised that, it is only by working together, putting hands together and establishing alliances that we can ensure the attainment of health to all people in Region. The Regional Council, is the highest governing body of WHO-EMRO. Its members include, health ministers and high-level representatives of the 22 countries and territories of the WHO-EMRO, partner organizations and civil society.