Magazine article New African

Tedros Will Revitalise WHO

Magazine article New African

Tedros Will Revitalise WHO

Article excerpt

Ethiopia's Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus becomes the first African to head the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the multilateral's 70-year history. Optimism is high that under this leadership, the often sluggish body will be revitalised. Report by Charlie Mitchell.

On 23 May in Geneva, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia, became the first African to lead the World Health Organisation (WHO), the UN's health agency. Tedros, who goes by his first name, beat David Nabarro and Sania Nishtar of the UK and Pakistan respectively to the job of director general, and will begin his five-year term on 1 July, replacing Margaret Chan.

He campaigned on a vision of "a world where everyone can lead healthy and productive lives, regardless of who they are or where they live."

A respected academic, with a doctorate in community health, Tedros served in the Ethiopian government for over a decade, leading the ministries of health and foreign affairs. As minister of health, he oversaw an impressive expansion in the country's health infrastructure, facilities and workforce, equipping more Ethiopians than ever with insurance coverage.

Beyond Ethiopia, Tedros chaired the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Board, and the Roll Back Malaria Board. Under his leadership, both organisations received record funding. "It's a good choice; he is a technocrat in the good sense of the word," says PaulAsquith of African Foundation for Development (AFFORD). "We strongly believe he is the leader the international health community deserves," says Yacine Djibo, president of Speak Up Africa.

As director general of WHO --which both advises and acts on global medical matters--Tedros has promised to pursue five key

Eriorities: to advance universal health coverage; to ensure that health emergencies are managed quickly and efficiently; to focus on the well-being of women, children and adolescents; to advance further understanding and response to the effects of climate change on health; and to improve the transparency and accountability of WHO.

Hailing from Ethiopia, Tedros is familiar with the disparities of healthcare between the developing and developed world. Still today, hundreds of millions of people lack access to essential health services. …

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