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The prime minister of Mozambique is emerging as the front-runner to succeed Gro Harlem Brundtland as director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in May.

If he is elected, Pascoal Mocumbi will be the first African to head the organisation. His chances of winning a secret ballot of the WHO's executive board next week increased after his strongest African rival, former Senegalese health minister Awa Marie Coll-Seck, withdrew from the contest.

Others shortlisted are: Julio Frenk Mora, Mexico's health minister; Peter Piot, a former AIDS researcher who now heads the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS; Jong Wook Lee, a physician from South Korea who heads the WHO's tuberculosis programme; and former Egyptian health minister Ismail Sallam. The World Health Assembly is expected to endorse the board's choice when it meets in Geneva, Switzerland in May.

Link to Nature news story

Reference: Nature, 421, 302 (2003)

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