Maria Neira joined the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1993 as the Coordinator of the Global Task Force on Cholera Control. In 1999, she became the Director of the Department of Control, Prevention and Eradication. She was then appointed as the Director of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health in 2005. During her career, Maria also worked with Médecins Sans Frontières in refugee camps in Central America.
Maria served as the Vice Minister of Health and Consumer Affairs in Spain, as President of the Spanish Food Safety and Nutrition Agency, as the Public Health Adviser of the Ministry of Health in Mozambique, and as the United Nations Public Health Advisor/Physician for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Rwanda.
Maria studied medicine and surgery at the University of Oviedo. She specialized in endocrinology and metabolic diseases at the Université René Déscartes. In addition, she holds a master’s degree in Public Health, a diploma in Human Nutrition from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, and an international diploma in Emergency Preparedness and Crisis Management form the University of Geneva. In 2016, she received the “Inspirational Women in Geneva Working for the Environment” award, in additional to other international awards in France and Spain.