Dr Neira leads WHO’s efforts to achieve one billion more people enjoying better health and well-being through interventions relating to the environmental, social, and economic determinants of health (e.g. climate change, tobacco control, chemical safety, road safety, food systems and nutrition, physical activity, air pollution and radiation) through a One Health approach.
Dr Neira has served as Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health (formerly, Public Health and Environment) since 2005. Throughout her tenure, she has helped position health at the centre of global discussions on environment and climate change, building strong partnerships with Member States, UN agencies, donors, and civil society. She joined WHO as Coordinator of the Global Task Force on Cholera Control in 1993.
Dr Neira was Vice-Minister of Health and Consumer Affairs in Spain for three years and President of the Spanish Food Safety and Nutrition Agency (AESAN). She also served for five years in the Ministry of Health in Mozambique and in Rwanda as UN Public Health Advisor for the United Nations Development Programme and the Italian Cooperation. She began her career with Médecins Sans Frontières in refugee camps in El Salvador and Honduras.
Among many distinctions, she received the “Médaille de L'Ordre National du Mérite” (France), the “Extraordinary Woman Award” (HM Queen of Spain) and the European Lung Foundation Award. One of the 100 policy influencers in health and climate change in 2019 and 2022, she is a member of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Asturias, Spain.
A medical doctor by training, Dr Neira specialized in Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases at the René Descartes University in Paris and holds a Master’s in Public Health, a Diploma in Human Nutrition and a Diploma in Emergency Preparedness and Crisis Management.