First Lady of Georgia becomes Goodwill Ambassador for WHO/Europe

Promoting action towards the Millennium Development Goals for maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis

Copenhagen, 28 March 2011

At an official ceremony on Monday 28 March 2011, WHO/Europe welcomed the First Lady of Georgia, Mrs Sandra Roelofs, as WHO Goodwill Ambassador in the European Region for the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Mrs Roelofs has been involved in humanitarian work from an early age. She is a mother of two, speaks six languages and is a qualified nurse. She has a special interest in maternal and child health, has set up several organizations in Georgia on priority health issues and has played a role in several international health activities, particularly on tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS. Her autobiography is called “The story of an idealist”.

Her mandate as Goodwill Ambassador is to raise the profile of the MDGs related to health in the European Region. This will involve her drawing attention to them, networking among decision-makers, health professionals and the general public, and participating in activities that support the implementation of actions towards their achievement.

The health-related MDGs aim to reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases including TB. The other MDGs address key determinants of health, including poverty and hunger, education, water and sanitation, gender equality and women’s empowerment, environmental sustainability, and global partnership for development. The deadline to meet many of the MDG targets is 2015, so time is short.

“We are delighted that Mrs Roelofs is working closely with us as a WHO Goodwill Ambassador,” said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “Countries have made some significant advances in meeting the MDGs, but in some areas maternal and infant mortality, for example, is still alarmingly high, as is the incidence of HIV/AIDS and TB. Inequities persist between and within the 53 countries in our Region. Mrs Roelofs will be an important ally in our work.”

“The experience I have gained over the years, as a First Lady actively involved in the health care reforms of a country in transition, but also as a nurse, a mother, and a charity fund director, will definitely assist me in facing the new challenge of goodwill ambassadorship for WHO/Europe,” said Mrs Roelofs.

Through its specialized health programmes, WHO/Europe works to support its Member States in their efforts to achieve the MDGs. For more information about its work on the MDGs, see the WHO/Europe web site.

Note to editors

WHO’s goodwill ambassadors are well-known personalities and prominent individuals from the arts or public life who commit to contribute to WHO’s efforts to raise awareness of important health problems and solutions. Appointed by the WHO Director-General for two years at a time, they work closely with WHO to draw attention to its overall priorities or a specific health issue affecting people’s lives and well-being.

For more information, please contact:

Dr Nedret Emiroglu
Special Representative of the Regional Director on MDGs
Division of Health Programmes
WHO Regional Office for Europe
Tel.: +45 3917 1450

Viv Taylor Gee
Communications Adviser
WHO Regional Office for Europe
Tel.: +45 3917 1231
Mobile: +45 2272 3691