WHO elects Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as its new director general

Written by  Published in Governance Tuesday, 23 May 2017 17:16
Ethiopia’s former health minister has been elected to serve as the next director-general of the World Health Organization. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, 52, will succeed Dr. Margaret Chan on July 1.
Tedros, who is known by his first name, defeated Dr. David Nabarro, 67, of Britain and Dr. Sania Nishtar, 54, of Pakistan. He is the first African to be chosen to head the WHO. His campaign is thought to have benefited from an endorsement from the African Union and a belief in some quarters that it was Africa’s turn to lead the organization.
He takes over a battered agency that has suffered from funding stagnation and that is widely seen to have badly bungled the early days of the 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa. Multiple postmortem reports have called for significant reform of the WHO in the wake of that outbreak.
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Tedros is also the first director-general to be chosen by the organization’s 194 member countries. Previously the selection was made by the WHO’s executive board — a rotating committee of 34 member countries, serving three-year terms; the full membership merely rubber stamped the executive board’s choice.
Tedros is not a physician but has a doctorate in community health; he is credited with successfully reforming his country’s health system when he served as health minister from 2005 to 2012. He then served as Ethiopia’s foreign minister, from 2012 to 2016.
Late in the campaign, a supporter of Nabarro’s questioned Tedros’s record in Ethiopia, saying the country had covered up cholera outbreaks that should have been declared to the WHO. Tedros denied the allegation, saying the outbreaks in question were “acute watery diarrhea” that occurred in remote areas where laboratory testing capacity was limited.
Last modified on Tuesday, 23 May 2017 17:32

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