David Nabarro

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David Nabarro in 2016

Dr. David Nabarro (born 26 August 1949) is a medical doctor who has been tapped to lead the United Nations' response to the massive cholera epidemic in Haiti that was brought to the country by UN peacekeeping troops in October 2010[1]. Dr. Nabarro had previously organized the United Nations' response to Ebola in 2014 [2].

He studied at Oxford and London Universities and qualified as a physician in 1973. Dr. Nabarro worked as the Senior UN System Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza at United Nations Headquarters in New York. He was seconded to this position from the World Health Organization.

In September 2005, Dr. Nabarro joined the office of the UN Secretary General as Senior Coordinator for Avian and Pandemic Influenza.

In January 2009 he was given the responsibility of coordinating the UN system’s High Level Task Force on Global Food Security.

In October 2009 he was appointed Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Food Security and Nutrition.

Since January 2010 he has worked with the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement and was appointed SUN Movement co-ordinator in January 2012.


Born in London in 1949, Nabarro is the son of the late Sir John David Nunes Nabarro (formerly consultant endocrinologist at University College and Middlesex Hospitals, London). He attended Oundle School leaving in the summer of 1966. In a gap year between school and university, Nabarro was a Community Service Volunteer. He spent a year as the Organiser of Youth Action, York. A BBC television documentary was made about his volunteer work.

Nabarro became a qualified physician in the UK in 1973. For a short time he worked in the UK's National Health Service. From 1976 to 1978, Nabarro worked as District Child Health Officer in Dhankuta District, Nepal. Later, he moved to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and in 1982, he became Regional Manager for the Save the Children Fund in South Asia, based in the region. In 1985 he joined the Liverpool School of Medicine as Senior Lecturer in International Community Health. He moved to the now Department for International Development as a Strategic Adviser for Health and Population in East Africa, based in Nairobi in 1989.

Having had a good experience with helping third world countries in the field of medical care,he then took up the post of Chief Health and Population Adviser, at the ODA London Office in 1990, and moved on to become Director of Human Development (as well as Chief Health Adviser), as ODA was transformed into the Department for International Development in 1997.

Nabarro joined WHO in January 1999, as Project Manager, Roll Back Malaria, then moved to the Office of the Director-General, as Executive Director, from March 2000. He transferred to the Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments cluster in 2003.

He was appointed Representative of the Director-General for Health Action in Crises in July 2003. Since then he has been responsible for taking forward efforts to improve WHO's performance in crisis settings, with an emphasis on preparedness, response and recovery.

Nabarro was stationed in the Canal Hotel.[3] in Baghdad, Iraq, when it was bombed on the afternoon of 19 August 2003. The blast targeted the United Nations, which had used the hotel as its headquarters in Iraq since 1991.

He coordinated support for health aspects of crisis response operations in Darfur, Sudan, and in countries affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and Tsunami. In September 2005, Nabarro was seconded from WHO and appointed Senior United Nations System Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to ensure that the United Nations system makes an effective and coordinated contribution to the global effort to control the epidemic of avian influenza (or “bird flu”).

In January 2009, he was given the responsibility of coordinating the United Nations system’s High-Level Task Force on Global Food Security (HLTF). The HLTF brought together 23 different organizations, funds, programs and other entities from within the United Nations family, as well as the Bretton Woods Institutions, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and tasked them with establishing a common strategy for addressing food and nutrition insecurity in a more sustainable, coordinated and comprehensive way. Dr. Nabarro left the HLTF coordinator position in 2014 and was succeeded by Giuseppe Fantozzi.

In October 2009 United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed David Nabarro as Special Representative on Food Security and Nutrition. As Special Representative, Dr. Nabarro’s role is to assist the Secretary-General as he encourages and supports country-led actions for food security and nutrition through comprehensive approaches, coordinated strategies, a strong role for multilateral agencies and increased international assistance.

In January 2012 Dr. Nabarro was appointed Coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement (SUN). SUN brings together government officials, civil society, the United Nations, donors, businesses and researchers in a collective effort to improve nutrition.

In August 2014 Dr. David Nabarro was designated as Senior United Nations System Coordinator for Ebola Virus Disease, with the responsibility for ensuring that the United Nations system makes an effective and coordinated contribution to the global effort to control the outbreak of Ebola.

David Nabarro has three older children with his former partner, Oxfordshire GP Susanna Belle Graham-Jones: Thomas (Tom) Adam Nabarro (1984), Oliver Mark Nabarro (1986) and Polly Frances Graham-Jones Nabarro (1988). David married Gillian Holmes in 2002, in Coppet, near Geneva, and they have two children: Josephine Mari Holmes Nabarro (1997) and Lucas John Nabarro (2000).


  1. ^ Katz, Jonathan (August 17, 2016). The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/18/world/americas/united-nations-haiti-cholera.html?_r=0. Retrieved 30 August 2016.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Chambers, Ray (November 26, 2014). "In Conversation: David Nabarro, the Man on the Front Line of the Ebola Crisis". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 30 August 2016. 
  3. ^ "http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2003/statment_nabarro/en/index.html".  External link in |title= (help)