Health Care

AU congratulates Adhanom on historic win as first World Health Organization chief from Africa

AU congratulates Adhanom on historic win as first World Health Organization chief from Africa

On Tuesday afternoon, the WHA held the first ever election of a new Director-General that was open to all member states and elected Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia. 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.

On a personal note, Tedros has worn different hats including that of Ethiopia's Foreign Affairs Minister (2012-2016) and Health Minister (2005-2012).

All three candidates said that if they won, they would reform the WHO's bureaucratic system, put an emphasis on universal health care, and prevent the next worldwide pandemic.

Tedros will take over on July 1, succeeding Margaret Chan, a Hong Kong native whose decade-long tenure was marred by the agency's fiercely criticised response to the Ebola epidemic in west Africa.

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The AU Commission Chairperson has also thanked African Ministers of health for their united and steadfast support for Adhanom during the campaign.

Shortly after today's vote, both Nabarro and Nishtar congratulated Tedros.

Dr Tedros becomes the first African to lead the World Health Organization and had unanimous backing from the African Union, which claimed that the continent deserved a shot to lead the agency.

In addition to serving twice as minister in his government, he has also been chairman of the board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; head of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership Board; and co-chairman of the board of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. Tedros had 133 votes to Nabarro's 50, with two abstentions.

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The candidates are Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a 52-year-old former government minister in Ethiopia; Sania Nishtar, a 54-year-old cardiologist and former government minister from Pakistan; and David Nabarro, 67, a physician and longtime United Nations official from Britain.

"All roads should lead to universal health coverage and it should be the center of gravity of our movement", he said.

Second to speak was Nabarro, who acknowledged that some have felt "let down" by World Health Organization and want it to be more relevant, responsive and reliable. Gostin said he still had worries about Tedros' impending leadership and called for him to become "a champion of transparency".

"I believe the global commitment to sustainable development - enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals - offers a unique opportunity to address the social, economic and political determinants of health and improve the health and wellbeing of people everywhere", said Dr. Tedros in a campaign statement.

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