By Keffyalew Gebremedhin The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
I was preparing Sunday evening to get further clue about the author of a tweet I had retweeted earlier in the afternoon. I joined it not only because of its cute brevity. But also I loved its forthrightness in rejecting Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s candidacy to the highest post at the World Health Organization (WHO), for which the candidate already had his first job interview on November 1, 2016 that had gone terribly bizarre.
Coincidentally, there is also history there playing a role, forcing out this article. It has comes with awareness of a May 1945 vision that had given rise to the idea of creating WHO, the agreements of which were shortly arrived at San Francisco, USA, before the delegations returned home.
It is the considered view of many that Dr. Tedros Adhanom is a wrong fit for WHO. His experiences are made of lighter stuff, happier as fellow traveller with the killing machine the TPLF has been. It cannot be otherwise, since he has hardly shown any policy-making traits, while at the highest echelon of his ruling party – the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
On the contrary, he has proved his loyalty to it through his defense of the murderers, spilling Ethiopian bloods and humiliating the nation. Regarding the misbehavior and arrogance of power of the TPLF regime, of which Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s is typical, distorting information, cutting out communications & tweets, which he has made an all-day job for a ‘government’ minister, about which Karl Eldar not long ago thus commented:One cannot afford to overlook or allow skepticism to take over, when a health professional with concerns about human rights speaks out. I am sure the Norwegian did not mean to apply the tools of psychology available to him to dismiss the TPLF regime-nominated African candidate to the WHO post as merely “unfit”.
It must be realized that Dr. Tedros Adhanom is in competition with five medical doctors from France, Italy, Hungary, Pakistan and the United Kingdom for the director-general’s post. At this stage, we do not know how much not being a medical doctor would hurt his candidacy for an organization that up until this point has had medical doctors running its program activities and administration, both of which require real vision and competence, not political cadre with propaganda as his tools.
For me, retweeting invariably is indication of agreement on something, show of shared interests and ideas with like-minded authors. In this case, in the series of articles I have written since April 2016, opposing Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s candidacy to the post of director-general. Nothing personal here, since we have never met, nor worked together for the same office. My justifications are anchored on his professional inadequacy and his lack of integrity, substantively discussing those in my articles, which should now justify my interest in Dr. Karl Eldar Evang’s tweet.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s ethnically-determined selection as both minister, first at the ministry of health where he worked for seven years and the ministry of foreign affairs exactly four years, and now crowned as candidate to WHO post is not based merit or distinguished qualifications. This has hurt Ethiopia in the past quarter century; also in international elections, it has discredited Africa with the African Group often rubber-stamping deadwoods, in a region that hardly is bereft of highly qualified professionals.As a matter of fact, the world has clearly seen how Dr.Tedros Adhanom embarrassingly waddled during his job interview in Geneva on November 1, 2016. Failing to understand questions in English, of the six the only WHO official language he speaks, is a terrible indication of disqualification. Added to this is his fast and lose habit with the truth. His lack of depth and seriousness has shown him as ‘unfit’ to the DG post, for an organization that prides about staying on skills, benefitting from legacies of the eight directors-general that have left their imprint from 1947 to the present.
Of interest to me here is also the person behind the twit – Karl Eldar Evang – who by sort of a ‘natural selection’ has been linked to the very beginnings of WHO. He happens to be the grandson of Dr. Karl Evang – the man who brought the vision of and need for creating an international organization dealing with health matters, as a part of the United Nations system in May 1945, while the world was focussed on discussing the contes of the Charter.
The sense of the coincidences fostered in my head Sunday evening by Dr. Evang’s twit and my retweet had me put out this piece, especially because of the mentioning of Dr. Karl Evang senior’s name.
Already on September 24, 2016, I had the privilege of writing a piece on my blog The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO) about the vision his grandfather had put forth during their usual lunch encounter to his two other medical doctor colleagues – Dr. Geraldo de Puala Souza of Brazil and China’s Dr. Szeming Sze. He asked with seriousness, “Why don’t we start a new health organization?” Doesn’t belong to the genre of “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), save the missing authority and the divine power.
Dr. Sze who testified about it how the three interlocked themselves into this idea and their consequent experiences was made known in an interview, which appeared on the World Health Forum (Vol 9, 1988), under the title WHO: From Small Beginnings.
When the idea first came, Dr. Sze did not hide his skepticism. His concern was that government emissaries were sent to San Francisco to discuss establishment of the United Nations, not an health organization.
However, China was one of the four sponsors of the San Francisco Conference, along with UK, USA and USSR and Dr. Sze did not face any resistance from within the Chinese delegation. That allowed him to pursue Dr. Evang’s vision leading to the birth of WHO with others, Brazil and Norway as co-founders.
China’s only medical doctor Dr. Sze recalls: “Dr. Karl Evang, of course, was the most active of the three of us…he was so enthusiastic, as was his nature that all three of us became keen to start something.”
The time was 1945. Delegations from all over the world of the era – 46 in number comprising 3,500 delegates – had arrived in San Francisco to attend the 1945 Conference to found an international organization and approve the United Nations Declaration.
Nevertheless, Dr. Karl Evang did not stay long in San Francisco until the end; he was recalled to Oslo by the Norwegian government at the end of the Second World War and Germany’s surrender to become that country’s first post-war minister of health. And yet, this would not take away from him an iota his contributions as WHO’s co-founder.
It is possible that, without Dr. Karl Evang suddenly suggesting at the beginning of May 1945 to his two medical doctors colleagues, the UN Conference would not have found the energy and time create immediately after World War Two a health arm within the United Nations system.
Of course, Ethiopia was one of the those 46 nations participating in the Conference and signing the United Nations Charter, as one of the original founders of the Organization.
Dr. Karl Eldar Evang closely follows the situation in Ethiopia. He squarely puts blame on Dr. Tedros Adhanom for the crimes being committed by the regime he has been serving for such a long time.
There are many more Ethiopia-related messages Dr. Karl Eldar has tweeted or retweeted. For instance, regarding the Ireecha Massacre of October 2, 2016 this is what he tweeted to US Secretary of State John Kerry, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom and Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende
Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s presentation of his vision for WHO at Geneva, an embarrassing moment for Ethiopia
*The article is updated and revised to rectify errors in Karl Eldar Evang’s professional title, who is a member of the Human Rights Council of Norwegian Psychologists.