23 May 2017 | GENEVA – Today the Member States of WHO elected Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as the new Director-General of WHO.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was nominated by the Government of Ethiopia, and will begin his five-year term on 1 July 2017.
Prior to his election as WHO’s next Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ethiopia from 2012-2016 and as Minister of Health, Ethiopia from 2005-2012. He has also served as chair of the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; as chair of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership Board, and as co-chair of the Board of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.
As Minister of Health, Ethiopia, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus led a comprehensive reform effort of the country’s health system, including the expansion of the country’s health infrastructure, creating 3500 health centres and 16 000 health posts; expanded the health workforce by 38 000 health extension workers; and initiated financing mechanisms to expand health insurance coverage. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, he led the effort to negotiate the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, in which 193 countries committed to the financing necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
As Chair of the Global Fund and of RBM, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus secured record funding for the two organizations and created the Global Malaria Action Plan, which expanded RBM’s reach beyond Africa to Asia and Latin America.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will succeed Dr Margaret Chan, who has been WHO’s Director-General since 1 January 2007.
Who is Dr Tedros?
Family life: Married, with five children and lives in Ethiopia
Previous jobs: Ethiopian minister of health and foreign affairs, chairman of the board of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB and Malaria
Qualifications: Internationally recognised malaria researcher, with a PhD in community health
His election was not without controversy.
He has recently been accused of covering up three cholera epidemics in Ethiopia, but his supports say this is untrue.
Ethiopian opposition groups are also critical of Dr Tedros. They accuse the government of human rights abuses and believe that Dr Tedros’ candidacy is an attempt to raise the country’s diplomatic profile.
Dr Tedros said his vision as the new director general was of “a world in which everyone can lead health and productive lives, regardless of who they are or where they live”.
He told delegates at the World General Assembly: “I promise I will get up every day, determined to make a difference… I am ready to serve.”
His top five priorities in his new job are:
- Advancing universal health coverage
- Ensuring WHO responds rapidly and effectively to disease outbreaks and emergencies
- Putting the wellbeing of women, children and adolescents at the centre of global health and development
- Helping nations address the effects of climate change on health
- Making the agency transparent and accountable