Ethiopia's Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Elected as First African DG of WHO

Evrard Martin
Juin 2, 2017

"Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is a driving force for change with vast experience and expertise in global health", said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. He was the chief architect of that country's very successful health extension programme, which Namibia has been privileged to learn and draw lessons from.

"Prior to his election as WHO's next director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus served as minister of foreign affairs, Ethiopia from 2012-2016 and as minister of health, Ethiopia from 2005-2012", a statement from the WHO read.

World Health Organisation (WHO) outgoing chief Margaret Chan has defended her legacy, insisting the world had become better prepared to face health emergencies such as Ebola on her watch.

He received 133 of the votes cast by the health ministers of 186 countries.

The new DG will succeed Dr Margaret Chan, who has been WHO's Director-General since 1 January 2007.

As things stand now, he needs only one vote more to emerge Africa's first World Health Organization chief.

Tedros has not been without his controversies.

The 52-year-old's campaign focused on overhauling the UN health agency after its much-criticised handling of the west African Ebola epidemic, and speculation that the United States might cut its funding for the agency.

"When it happens the world will turn to the WHO for guidance and for leadership". Tedros, who will be the first African to be the director general of the World Health Organization, will step into that post in Geneva on July 1.

He is backed by the African Union. "All staff, myself included, will be held to account for delivering", said Nabarro. "It shows when we are united, we can do everything". He did not specify the disease, but said it easily could have been him instead.

"We need WHO to be more effective than it is today", the director of Harvard University's Global Health Institute, Ashish Jha, said at the Swiss Press Club event.

However, this is the first time for World Health Organization to allow a vote for WHO's top post.

In his address to delegates ahead of the voting, Tedros said his motivation to lead the agency comes from "knowing survival to adulthood can not be taken for granted, and refusing to accept that people should die because they are poor". "That is why I want to lead the WHO-to relentlessly work toward a world in which every individual can lead a healthy and productive life, regardless of who they are or where they live", Dr. Tedros was quoted as saying during his campaign.

Cheng reported from London.

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