Pakistan-born Dr Umair A Shah has been appointed as health secretary by Washington Governor Jay Inslee to lead the state’s Covid-19 strategy.
“Dr Shah brings an unrivalled expertise, knowledge and passion for public health,” said Governor Jay Inslee in a statement. “His leadership will help us lead Washington state through the next crucial phase of this pandemic. He is uniquely suited to continue our nation-leading response.”
Currently serving as an executive director and local health authority for Harris County Public Health (HCPH) in Texas, Dr Shah is an immigrant from Pakistan who grew up in Ohio. “Equity is incorporated and considered in every decision as he leads organisations to ensure health and safety of everyone,” added the governor.
Dr Shah said he is honoured to serve as the secretary of health. “Without question, the number one priority for me is to work with the team to continue the fight against Covid-19 and help the people of Washington through these challenging times,” he added.
The physician reflected that the pandemic highlighted the importance of public health and healthcare working together. “I am confident my experience in both will serve the state of Washington well now during these difficult times, and into the future.
“While I’m sad to leave Texas after so many years, all of us – my wife, our three kids and our puppy (Koko) – are excited to move to the Pacific Northwest.”
Dr Shah graduated from Vanderbilt University and pursued a medical degree at the University of Toledo Health Science Centre. He has a masters in public health with an emphasis in management and policy sciences from the University of Texas Health Science Centre.
For the last seven years, Dr Shah has managed HCPH, leading 700 public health staff in the nation’s third largest country of 4.7 million residents.