The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday nominated Dr. Margaret Chan, former health chief of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, as its next director-general.
The nomination was the result of rounds of secret voting by the UN agency's 34-nation Executive Board, during which four other heavyweight competitors were eliminated.
Chan, 59, joined the WHO in 2003 and has since been the agency's top official for pandemic influenza as well as assistant director-general for communicable diseases.
Her challengers in the race included Shigero Omi, a Japanese who heads WHO's operations in the Western Pacific region, Mexico's Health Minister Julio Frenk, Kazem Behbehani, a senior WHO official from Kuwait and Spanish Health Minister Elena Salgado Mendez.
The five finalists were selected from an original list of 11 candidates, who had been recommended by their respective governemnts to head the UN agency following the sudden death of former WHO Director-General Dr. Lee Jong-wook in May.
Chan's nomination by the Executive Board still needs to be approved by a final voting of the WHO's full 193 member states. The voting, widely seen as a procedural step, will be held on Thursday, when the WHO's governing World Health Assembly holds a special session.