Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom elected new WHO director-general
Director-General of WHO elected Tedros Adhanom. (File | AFP)
GENEVA: Tedros Adhanom, Ethiopia, was elected today as the new head of the World Health Organization, the first African to lead an agency widely seen as in need of major reforms.
The former Ethiopian Health Minister, who has pledged to strengthen the United Nations public health agency, defeated Britain’s David Nabarro and Sania Nishtar Pakistan after three rounds of voting.
Jubilant supporters, one waving a flag of Ethiopia, surrounded Tedros, a malaria expert for 52 years, after the final outcome was announced in the meeting room at the UN headquarters in Geneva.
In his first remarks as WHO’s Director-General-elect, Tedros promised “… to seek the confidence of Member States and all citizens of the world.”
He said that the provision of universal health care, especially the world’s poorest, would be his priority.
“Together we are going to save and improve the lives of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters,” he said.
“Everything we do is for the people we serve.”
– Ebola scars –
WHO is perhaps the most influential UN body responsible for responding to emergencies and shaping policy reference for the treatment of major health problems.
Tedros take over July 1 to succeed Margaret Chan, a Hong Kong citizen whose ten-year tenure has been characterized by ferocity criticized the agency’s response to the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.
The agency has been widely accused of failing the great test that followed the outbreak of Ebola in December 2013, the lack of warnings about the severity of an epidemic that ultimately killed more than 11,000 people.
Health officials, including Washington, a key WHO donor, said the agency’s new management was to be effective for an emergency response.
“We know that the next health emergency is not a matter of” yes “but” when, “said Tom Price, the health secretary in Geneva, on Tuesday.
“When that happens, the world will go back to the WHO for guidance and leadership. We have to be sure it is up to it,” said the Swiss Press Club.
Price congratulated Tedros in a statement after the vote.
– An African victory –
Tedros became the first African to lead WHO and received the unanimous support of the African Union, which affirmed that the continent deserved an opportunity to lead the agency.
Nabarro, who strongly supported his native Britain and presented his decades of experience within the United Nations system, was ultimately not convinced by voters that the agency needed privileged information in its trade.
Nishtar, a former Pakistani health minister, rented a strong campaign, but it was always considered a very remote possibility.
On Tuesday was the first time the 194 member states have chosen to choose the leader of the agency.
Previously, the Executive Committee has submitted a single candidate from the rubber stamp states.
The WHO has already initiated a series of reforms since they were criticized by critics of the Ebola crisis, but experts say the new leader still faces a huge task.
“We need WHO to be more effective than it is today,” said Ashish Jha, director of the Global Health Institute at Harvard University, during the Swiss Press club event.
Mark Dybul, who heads the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said that Chan had “laid the groundwork” for improvements, but “major changes have to be made.”