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WHO Elects Ethiopia’s Tedros as First Director General From Africa

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On May 23, 2017, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia was voted as the new Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). He is the first African ever to hold this post.

Dr. Tedros replaces Dr. Margaret Chan of China, who has held this post from 2006.

Election of new Director-General of WHO:

  • As a part of election procedure, six candidates undertook a public campaign for nearly two years.
  • Voting was held in a closed-door session, during which the health ministers of 186 countries cast their ballots in secret.
  • At the end of three voting rounds, Dr. Tedros received 133 votes and emerged victorious by beating David Nabarro of Britain who received 50 votes.
  • Pakistani cardiologist, Dr. Sania Nishtar was also in the race but was eliminated after the first round of voting.

About Dr. Tedros:

  • Tedros is a malaria expert.
  • During his tenure as Health Minister of Ethiopia he drastically cut deaths from malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis and neonatal problems.
  • He trained 40,000 female health workers, hired outbreak investigators, improved the national laboratory, organized an ambulance system and oversaw a tenfold increase in medical school graduates.
  • In his role as Director General of WHO, he has promised to pursue health insurance in even the poorest nations, strengthen emergency responses and to fight the health effects of climate change.
  • He supports greater access to birth control and preventive care for women.
  • On functioning of WHO, he has promised to bring in transparency and accountability and will also strive to have more gender and ethnic diversity in the agency.

Quick Facts about World Health Organization (WHO):

  • WHO is a specialised agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health.
  • It was established on April 7, 1948.
  • Headquarters of WHO is located in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • It has played an instrumental role in the eradication of smallpox.
  • World Health Report, a leading international publication on health is prepared by WHO.
  • United States is the largest donor of funds to WHO.