Geneva 20 May 2018 (PAHO/WHO) - The former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet has become the new Chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health of the World Health Organization (WHO), the day prior to the opening of the 71st World Health Assembly in Switzerland.

Bachelet replaced Graça Machel, widow of South African leader Nelson Mandela and Mozambique human rights activist, who held that position in recent years. "It is a privilege to be Graça Machel's successor in this great initiative that ensures the health of the world's mothers, newborns, and children," said Bachelet.

The Director-General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, thanked Bachelet for taking on this challenge. He also awarded Machel the WHO gold medal, one of the highest forms of recognition awarded by the organization.

The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health has more than 720member organizations from seven different spheres: academic and research institutions; donors and foundations; health professionals; multilateral agencies; nongovernmental organizations; partner countries; and the private sector. The Partnership allows members to share strategies, harmonize objectives and resources, and reach agreements on interventions in which they can achieve more by working together than individually, to ensure that all women, newborns, children, and adolescents can thrive and be healthy.

In addition to this new position, Bachelet also leadsthehigh-level commission convened by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to propose solutions for expanding health coverage and access in the Region of the Americas, with the goal of leaving no one behind by 2030.

Bachelet was invited by PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne (Regional Office for the Americas of WHO) to head the high-level commission of the RegionalForum onUniversal Health in the 21st Century: 40 Years of Alma-Ata.