Who's Who

Dr. Saia Mau Piukala

WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific

Dr Saia Ma’u Piukala is WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific and the first Pacific islander to take up this role. He was nominated for this position by the Regional Committee for the Western Pacific in October 2023, appointed by the WHO Executive Board in January 2024 and took office on 1 February 2024.

Dr Piukala is a politician, public health leader and surgeon who brings to the role nearly 30 years of experience working in Tonga and across the Pacific. He is a champion of multisectoral collaboration to tackle noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and the threat to health posed by climate change. He has led initiatives to achieve universal health coverage and address emerging infectious diseases. He has been a strong advocate for initiatives on youth health, tobacco control, safe surgery, and disaster preparedness and response.

Prior to his election as WHO Regional Director, Dr Piukala was a Member of Parliament and Minister of Health of the Kingdom of Tonga. He also served as Vice-Chair of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific (October 2022 to October 2023), and chaired the Pacific Health Ministers meeting hosted by Tonga in September 2023. From 2019 to 2022 he served a member of the WHO Executive Board, and he was a Commissioner for WHO’s Independent High-Level Commission on NCDs from 2018 to 2020.

Previously, Dr Piukala was Medical Superintendent of the main referral hospital in Tonga, and worked as a Senior Medical Officer and General Surgeon in Tonga and other Pacific islands including Fiji, Nauru, Niue and Tuvalu.

Dr Piukala holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (1995), Postgraduate Diploma in Surgery (2005) and Master of Medicine in Surgery (2009) from Fiji School of Medicine / University of the South Pacific.


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