Warmest congratulations, Saima Wazed!
On behalf of the entire team of Blitz, we would like to convey our warmest congratulations to Saima Wazed, granddaughter of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and daughter of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for winning the election of the World Health Organization’s regional director for Southeast Asia which is composed of eleven countries.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Bangladesh, Bhutan, DPR (North) Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste took part in the voting held in New Delhi today, the third day of the 76th session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia.
Myanmar, the other member, did not attend the meeting.
Saima Wazed won eight votes. Dr Shambhu Prasad Acharya, nominated by Nepal, was the other candidate.
On July 21, 2023, Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations through a letter confirmed the candidacy of Saima Wazed.
On her website, Saima Wazed says”
I come from a well-known political family that most are familiar with and incorrectly assume that I have always lived a life of privilege. Despite being born in Bangladesh as the granddaughter of the Father of the Nation, my earliest memories were that of growing up in India as a refugee. Trauma, secrecy, heightened concerns with security while always being aware I was not like everyone else, were second nature to me. We assimilated well into the culture, and I spoke Hindi fluently as a child with neighbors and friends, spoke Bangla at home, and learned English in school. Celebrating Diwali and Holi with others, and watching my mother pray namaz were typical for us.
Later childhood years were spent with my aunt in London, UK, where I learned to find some semblance of belonging without ever really fitting in. Next came 3 short primary school years in Bangladesh, to be followed by catholic boarding school in the foothills of the Himalayas. South India is where my high school and college years were spent. This is where I learned how significant diversity within one nation can coexist, because more than political borders, cultural, social, and religious practices determine who people are.
My young adult years were spent in Florida, USA, living, learning, and working amongst a melting pot of many European, Asian, Caribbean, and South American cultures that expanded my knowledge of family dynamics, religious, and socio-cultural norms and practices. The last 15 years of advocacy and policy development have broadened that knowledge and enabled me to garner a better understanding of the economic and political issues that particularly impact the health sector, through engagement with policymakers, local health practitioners as well as parents and caregivers.
Here are some of the mentionable experiences of Saiza Wazed:
Associate Fellow, Global Health Program, Chatham House, UK,
Honorary Doctorate, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU),
Commissioner, Commission for Universal Health, Chatham House, UK,
Faculty Member, Adrian Dominican School of Education, Barry University, USA,
Thematic Ambassador for Vulnerability, Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF),
Advisor to Director-General on Mental Health and Autism, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland,
Member, Expert Advisory Panel on Mental Health, World Health Organization,
Chairperson, Shuchona Foundation, Dhaka, Bangladesh,
Chairperson, National Advisory Committee, on Autism & NDDs, Dhaka, Bangladesh,
Panelist, SNF Nostos 2023: Release. Rethink. Refocus on Mental Health
Technical Expert & Moderator, Accelerating Universal Health Coverage Towards Smart Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh,
Visiting Faculty, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology,
University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh,
Honorary Specialist / Expert, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital, Dhaka, Bangladesh.