WHO elects Ethiopia’s Ghebreyesus as its new director-general
Ethiopia’s former minister of health Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has become the first African to be elected the director-general of the United Nations’ public health agency.
Ghebreyesus was elected by 194 countries, which are a part of the WHO, through a secret ballot that took place on Tuesday at the World Health Assembly that opened in Geneva on Monday.
Dr David Nabarro of the United Kingdom and Dr Sania Nishtar of Pakistan were the other 2 among the 3 people shortlisted for the position.
Ghebreyesus was nominated by the government of Ethiopia and will begin his five-year term on July 1. He will be taking over the position from Dr Margaret Chan, who was in charge of the agency since January 1, 2007.
Ghebreyesus served as Ethiopia’s minister of health from 2005-2012 and also as the minister of foreign affairs from 2012-2016. He was also chair of the board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership Board, and co-chair of the board of the partnership for maternal, newborn and child health.
Ghebreyesus as the minister of health led a comprehensive reform effort of the country’s health system, including the expansion of the country’s health infrastructure and initiated financing mechanisms to expand health insurance coverage.
As the Ethiopian foreign minister, he was also involved in the negotiations for the Addis Ababa Action Agenda in which 193 countries committed to the financing necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals spearheaded by the UN.
He secured record funding for the 2 organisations as the chair of the Global Fund and of RBM and created the Global Malaria Action Plan that expanded RBM’s reach beyond Africa to Asia and Latin America.