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News & Opinion: New W.H.O. Director General is Dr. Tedros of Ethiopia

Dr. Tedros — who campaigned under his first name — ultimately beat Dr. David Nabarro, the British candidate, after two rounds of voting by winning 121 votes.

Dr. Sania Nishtar, a Pakistani cardiologist and expert in noncommunicable diseases, was eliminated after a first round with 38 votes.

Dr. Tedros, 52, was best-known for having drastically cut deaths from malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis and neonatal problems when he was Ethiopia’s health minister. He trained 40,000 female health workers, hired outbreak investigators, improved the national laboratory, organized an ambulance system and multiplied medical school graduates tenfold.

He promised to pursue health insurance in even the poorest nations. …

[Featured photo: A woman waved a portrait of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the newly elected director general of the World Health Organization, in Geneva on Tuesday. Valentin Flauraud/European Pressphoto Agency]

For the full NYT article:

Source: W.H.O. Elects Ethiopia’s Tedros as First Director General From Africa – The New York Times

In PLOS Medicine  from the editors, published June 26, 2016

WHO’s next Director-General should be a proven leader and advocate, perhaps from a low-income or middle-income country. The new recruit will be greeted by a full in-tray, and featuring prominently are likely to be the constraints imposed by WHO’s current funding mechanisms. A substantial proportion of WHO’s existing budget is earmarked for specific projects, leaving the organization with little financial flexibility to respond to unanticipated demands. However, any improved funding mechanism is likely to follow, and be dependent on, organizational reform. According to Kruk [Margaret E. Kruk, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health], “WHO is both essential and hamstrung…the election of the Director-General should be a moment for member countries and other funders to reflect on whether they want an implementation agency for their favored health agenda, or an independent institution with the intelligence, agility, and operational capacity to tackle the coming global health challenges.”

Who should lead WHO? Dr. Tedros, nominee of the Government of Ethiopia By Zaeem Ul Haq, MBBS MPH 

posted on PLOSBLOGS April 5, 2017


Dr Tedros stands out as the most promising candidate to lead the World Health Organisation at this crucial time – with ever-increasing population, political, epidemiological and environmental challenges. My top three reasons reflect the facts that:

  • He has spearheaded the health sector reform in his country and providing exemplary leadership over the past decade;
  • He has galvanised bilateral and multi-sectoral partnerships that culminated in his country achieving the millennium development goal for child survival;
  • He has forged regional partnerships and generating global momentum for accelerating sustainable development;

Dr Tedros would be the first African to lead the WHO. As such, his hands-on experience effectively leading the national ministries of health and foreign affairs, wherein he accelerated progress towards increasing equitable access to basic health and nutrition services, will be instrumental for his governance. This experience will help ensure the WHO continues to provide global leadership to improve health outcomes and achieve sustainable development goals for health, for the hundreds of millions in need, in particular the most vulnerable and marginalised communities in Sub-Saharan Africa and in all fragile and conflict-affected states.

An interview with three final candidates for WHO Director General,  By AE Birn, YG Pillay, TH Holtz, 

posted on PLOSBLOGS, May 4, 2017

Question to the candidates…

What specific novel policies will you propose to improve health equity and strengthen health outcomes in LMICs?

Answer from Dr. Tedros: If I am elected, my top priority will be achieving universal health care (UHC) that is equitable and affordable for all. I am convinced that UHC, with financial protection and strong primary health care linked to community engagement, is the key to give us a world where everyone can lead healthy and productive lives regardless of who they are or where they live. It can also help us address public health emergencies and give us a safer world because a strong health system becomes our first line of defense to detect, monitor and respond to health emergencies. Achieving universal health care, of course, is an ambitious goal, and it is one which will require strong country-level ownership. To get there, I will work to raise the issue of universal health care to the highest political levels, championing universal health care as essential for the political agenda of every nation and as a basic right of every individual. I will work to unlock earmarked funding and mobilize new resources to achieve these goals. And I will lead a WHO that looks to form deep partnerships with countries and regions to design and implement UHC approaches that are right for their unique contexts.

[Please note, a PLOS Medicine interview with the newly elected WHO Director General will appear on this blog next month.]

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