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Ethiopian elected as new Director-General of WHO
June 4, 2017, 10:43 am

Former health minister and foreign minister of Ethiopia, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been elected as the new Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). Dr. Tedros who will take office on 1 July for a five-year term, was elected by the World Health Assembly (WHA) at its meeting on 23 May in Geneva.

The WHA, which is the world’s highest health policy setting body, governs the WHO through health ministers from the 194-member nations. Dr. Tedros, who had officially announced his candidacy for the post of the Director-General at the 69th meeting of WHA in 2016, won overwhelming endorsement from the African Union and Health Ministers of the continent. He was nominated as the sole candidate from Africa, based on merit and his prolific national and global credentials.

With technical, political and diplomatic competencies, Dr. Tedros who was Ethiopia’s health minister from 2005 to 2012, and the country’s foreign minister from 2012 to 2016, brings to the top job at WHO the experiences and expertise of a seasoned diplomat and health professional.

As health minister Dr. Tedros helped craft an ambitious and innovative health reform agenda that was instrumental in saving the lives of millions of children. Rather than building expensive hospitals, he set up a program to train 35,000 health workers who then went on to provide health care in nearly every community across Ethiopia. As a result of this program, women and children, who are often the most vulnerable and underserved in society, were able to access various health services, including family planning guidance for women and life-saving vaccines and treatment for children.

In nearly seven decades since the WHO was established, this is the first time that an African has been elected to head the specialized United Nations health agency. Dr. Tedros who has a doctorate in Community Health is also the first non-physician to head the world body. He will replace current Director-General Margaret Chan of China who served two consecutive terms from 2008.

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