Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s presentation of his vision for WHO at Geneva, an embarrassing moment for Ethiopia

5 Nov

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

Frankly speaking, the usually lucid (I did not say truthful) former Ethiopian foreign minister and now its candidate for the World Health Organization (WHO) director-general post Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s vision was badly attacked on November 1, 2016 during presentation of his vision at the Geneva WHO-organized Candidates Forum. He became a laughingstock amongst representatives of 34 nations, members of the Executive Board in the conference room.

The attacks darted from angles Dr. Tedros had not prepared for; nor that he anticipated things and tightened his convoluted logic about WHO, for instance, it is financed and program modalities – especially execution of its program of work.

The Permanent representative of Brazil to WHO shot the toughest question, which dealt my fellow countryman – I dare say – perhaps a fatal blow at the initial round of the competition, where he has been competing against five medical doctors.

As I questioned in my April 18, 2016 article under the title Does Dr.Tedros Adhanom have the requisite qualifications to become next WHO Director-General? as the United Nations sole health arm, eight of its directors-general since its founding on 1947 have been medical doctors.

Among the many reasons, superficiality has been one reason why Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s candidacy has been viewed with suspicion. This is because of the TPLF’s behavior and role in our region – even measured by Ethiopia’s own interests – which has reduced our country to being likened to a lackey of foreign powers and wealthy Americans, such as Bill Gates.


(Those who would like to view the full video of Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s presentation of his vision may click here.)

The fear in many member states now is that Dr. Tedros Adhanom would handover WHO to the interests of the pharmaceutical industry, not the purpose for what the WHO was created in 1947. Its primary purpose is to serve the interests of the peoples of the world.

Therefore, when in no unmistakeable manner and ways Dr. Tedros Adhanom was least prepared, he was asked about his claim of wanting to defend the interests of developing countries, while his vision was seen wearing the lens of Western security interests, thus espousing their priorities.

Moreover, the representative of Brazil asked him, for instance, why Dr Tedros Adhanom was talking about health coverage, when universality should be the organization’s ethos. This was a question not only the texture of which Dr. Tedros Adhanom could not understand, it pinned him down so hard, despite repeated rephrasing of the question.

Notwithstanding all this, it finally still required intervention by the chairman of the WHO Executive Board to provide his additional clarification.

The laughter in the room had said it all, when the Ambassador of Brazil expressed his concern that this was becoming a dialogue between the two of them. He tried his to no avail. Recall Ethiopia is among the five African nations (Chad, Ethiopia, Rwanda & Uganda) that have wedded themselves to give priority to the US interests, as I discussed in my article Authoritarianism and the securitization of development in Africa.

So bizarrely wedded the former foreign minister was to the sustainable development nomenclature, which he picked up in its superficiality from the Ethiopia-hosted July 2015 conference on financing for development, whose role at the tine was portrayed by the TPLF media as sole cause for its success.

Therefore, in the Geneva forum he somewhat reiterated his role of tapping backs toward the adoption of the Addis Abeba outcome, many looked at skeptically.

Nonetheless, Teddy Adhanom assumed that he has become an authority on sustainable development with the few terminologies he has collected. Therefore, even if he invoked the term repeatedly, the gist of which he has not digested, his jabber walk – apparently characteristic of TPLF officials and their ‘potted plants’ – could not convince the members of the WHO Executive Board at Geneva.

Unfortunate for him, it only made his copycatting truly ugly and repulsive at the WHO Candidates Forum in Geneva.

For a person who had filled out in his job application form in WHO that his native language is English, I cannot hide my disappointment from my folks at home when his fellow countryman should do so bad, not picking up meanings of some questions and ideas quickly.

I recall the former foreign minister boasting that Brazil has vowed to vote for him. I see no reason why Brazil should vote for him who would sacrifice its interests in WHO for the benefit of others.

It was one more embarrassing moment for our country, as if it has been bit at every turn by all sorts of national shame, all sorts of disgusting behavior, thanks to the TPLF!

It is time for me to humbly say something to the world. With all honesty, I twitted on November 2, i.e.,the same day, my observation on his performance at the Candidates Forum, which reflected his lack of depth by any standards, as follows:

Then comes Turjry. Its representative asked how Dr. Tedros Adhanom would administer cuts to WHO technical assistance programs to developing countries, given the the low level of resources he has to carry out its activities. Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s response was, to put it figuratively, in the genre of what sounded like you could eat your cake and still have it.

Sadly for Ethiopia, this comes in the wake of the so-called prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn making noise of an empty kettle reagarding one of the oldest cultured nations with organized state system and foreign relations long before many of others. He claimed that Ethiopia would no longer protect embassies.

This boneheaded language defies not only national and international law, the latter being our shield protecting the interests of poor nations. he did not even give a thought to its implications in terms of reciprocities.

I feel sorry for my country!

The six candidates to the organization’s general post and participating in the forum on November 1 and 2, 2016 were:

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Ethiopia, community health research), Dr Philippe Douste-Blazy (Frnace, Medical Doctor), Dr Sania Nishtar (Medical Doctor), Dr Miklós Szócska (Medical Doctor), Dr David Nabarro (Medical Doctor), and Dr Flavia Bustreo (Italy, Medical Doctor).


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