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3 Left in Running to Lead World Health Organization

FILE - People arrive at World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 25, 2016.

The list of candidates to become director-general of the World Health Organization was whittled to three Wednesday, with a final choice due in May.

The U.N. agency said those left in the running were Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; medical doctor David Nabarro, who served as U.N. envoy on Ebola; and Sania Nishtar, the Pakistani founder of a health think tank, Heartfelt, who served one year as a federal minister.

The next WHO chief will replace Margaret Chan, who took over its reins 10 years ago and came under fire for the agency's sluggish reaction to the Ebola epidemic, which spread across West Africa, one of the world's poorest regions, and killed of thousands of people. Chan's second five-year term ends June 30.

The final choice is to be made by the World Health Assembly, the annual ministerial gathering of WHO's 194 member states, held May 22-31.

Some public health policy experts called for a leader with political experience to revive the WHO's international standing and bring in funding for flagship programs.

"International organizations like WHO have lost lots of luster," Lawrence Gostin, professor of global health law at Georgetown University Law School, told Reuters. "WHO was wounded very badly with Ebola, and now even its new emergencies program is underfunded. It should be easy to fund. That is why somebody who has a lot of political stature has to direct it."