Dr Maria P. Neira was appointed Director of the Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health at the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland in September 2005. Prior to that, she was Vice-Minister of Health and President of the Spanish Food Safety Agency. She had previously held several senior positions in WHO. Dr Neira began her career as a medical coordinator working with refugees in the Salvador and Honduras for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).
Dr Neira is a Spanish national, and a medical doctor by training. She specialized in Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases; and Public Health. Dr Neira has been awarded the Médaille de l’Ordre national du Mérite by the Government of France and is a member of the Academy of Medicine, Asturias, Spain. In 2019, Dr Neira was nominated as one of the world’s most influential people in climate policy, her work has been recognized in raising awareness on health, climate and air pollution.