WHO elects Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom as its new director-general

24 May



Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
by Helen Branswell, Statnews
Ethiopia’s former health minister has been elected to serve as the next director-general of the World Health Organization — the first African picked to lead the global health agency.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, 52, will succeed Dr. Margaret Chan on July 1.

It took three rounds of secret-ballot voting for Tedros — who is known by his first name — to claim the top job on Tuesday. But from the start of balloting it was clear momentum was going his way.

He topped every vote, starting in January when the WHO’s executive board whittled a long list of six candidates down to the final three.

On Tuesday, he was the top vote-getter in a three-way faceoff, knocking Dr. Sania Nishtar, 54, of Pakistan, out of competition. He defeated Dr. David Nabarro, 67, of Britain in the final ballot, earning 133 votes to Nabarro’s 50. There were two abstentions.

After signing a contract and taking the oath of office, Tedros told the World Health Assembly — the annual meeting of WHO member countries — that he did a lot of listening as he crisscrossed the globe campaigning for the job. Among the things he heard: Countries want WHO to be more efficient and accountable, and the next director general needed focus his or her efforts on the most vulnerable of the world.

“I hear you and I will act on your messages,” he said. “Let’s get to work for a healthier world.”

Nabarro, a long-time UN senior official, congratulated Tedros on Twitter.

Tedros will be the first director-general from a developing country and he will be the first non-physician to lead the WHO; he has a doctorate in community health. He served as Ethiopia’s health minister from 2005 to 2012 and is credited for innovative reforms to the health delivery system of a resource-poor country. Supports see that experience as something that will benefit the cash-strapped WHO.

He will be taking over an agency that is also widely seen to have badly bungled the early days of the 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa. Multiple postmortem reports have called for significant reform of the WHO in the wake of that outbreak.

Many public health experts are hopeful Tedros can turn the agency around.

“As someone who has worked tirelessly to reform health systems in Ethiopia and across Africa, he will bring great insight and the political leadership necessary to restore trust in the WHO at a critical moment in its history,” said Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust.

“Tedros’s commitment to immunization is clear,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the vaccine alliance. “His work with Gavi as Ethiopia’s health minister helped boost the proportion of children reached by vaccines from less than half to more than two-thirds, preventing the deaths of thousands of children.”

Tedros is the first director-general to be chosen by the organization’s 194 member countries. Previously the selection was made by the WHO’s executive board — a rotating committee of 34 member countries, serving three-year terms; the full membership merely rubber stamped the executive board’s choice.

In addition to having served as health minister, Tedros was Ethiopia’s foreign minister from 2012 to 2016 and is seen as a skilled diplomat — an important skill at a time when the WHO faces potentially deeper budget challenges.

Tedros has also served as chairman of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and was also at a point chairman of the Roll Back Malaria partnership board.

While Tedros has plenty of ardent supporters, he also has a sizeable number of vocal critics. Members of the Ethiopian diaspora have pleaded with the countries voting in the election to reject Tedros as a representative of a repressive political regime.

And late in the campaign, a supporter of Nabarro’s questioned Tedros’s record in Ethiopia, saying the country had covered up cholera outbreaks that should have been declared to the WHO. Tedros denied the allegation, saying the outbreaks in question were “acute watery diarrhea” that occurred in remote areas where laboratory testing capacity was limited.

Tom Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was among those who defended Tedros. On Tuesday, he welcomed the news that the former health minister will take the helm in Geneva.

“Tedros is an excellent choice to lead WHO. He succeeded in Ethiopia, making remarkable health progress by rapidly reforming a sclerotic bureaucracy and implementing effective community-based services,” Frieden said. “Precisely the same thing is needed to make WHO effective providing technical guidance and improving support to countries.”



3 Responses to “WHO elects Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom as its new director-general”

  1. wetar May 24, 2017 at 16:57 #

    Dear Ababa Kefyalew!
    Much to your dismay, the Ethiopian has finally made it at WHA 70! I am proud of my country fellow! As for you, much like men of the old generation, I can see your desperado, your frustration, your agony, and how green eyed you are of Tedros’ success. None of your ‘predictions’ and ‘analyses’ has come to fruition! I knew this very day you unleashed your propaganda and so I am vindicated. Notwithstanding your self-aggrandizement, an old and defunct thinking is as much worthless as you truly are. But, with the benefit of hindsight, what would you say now when Tedros stand out contrary to your ‘prophetic analyses’ – the series of deafening pieces you dared to feed, day in – day out, your innocent readers of which I was not part?
    All your writings against him, as far as my readings are concerned, were truly grounded in tribalism – a disease that pervades much of your sub-conscious.You have no morale ground to accuse others of seeing Tedros’ success with tribal lens. How dare? You are truly a victim of the very vices you shout against – in this case tribalism! Shame on you, self-proclaimed Ethiopian! Your education and life time experiences didn’t help you much to this date! I pity you as a citizen! You will go to the grave with your spirit of hate, much like men of your generation – the old and country bumpkin who would never get civilized even if they live in the developed world! የአገር ጉዶች! የአገር ማፈርያዎች!
    ይብላኝ ላንተ እንጂ እኔስ በሁለቱ ቴድሮሶች ኮርቻለሁ፡፡ ለዛውም በሁለት ሳምንት ልዩነት በተጎናፀፉት ድል! አንደኛው ቴዲ አፍሮ ሲሆን ኢትዮጵያ በተሰኘው አልበሙን አገሬ ኢትዮጵያን በአለም አልበም ቻርት በማስጠራቱ ! ሁለተኛው ደግሞ ቴድሮስ አድሃኖም በአለም ጤና ድርጅት ተወዳድሮና አሽንፎ ኢትዮጵያ አገሬን በማስጠራቱ! አንተና አሮጌዎቹ የጥላቻና የፅንፍ አቀንቃኞች! እጃችሁን ከኢትዮጵያየ አንሱ! ጥጋችሁን ያዙ! መርዛችሁን እራሳችሁ ዋጡት! መንገዱን ለቀጣዮ ትውልድ ለቀቁ! የማትረጥቡ አሳዎች! ቶርቶራ ሁላ!


    • THE ETHIOPIA OBSERVATORY May 24, 2017 at 23:45 #

      Keffyalew Gebremedhin writes:
      The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

      Ignoble as you are, I have to frankly point out to you I get the meaning of why you refer to me as “Ababa”, meaning “Father” in Amharic. If you examine your mind, it is because you are trying to disparage mature age. Please note that I am already fortunate you not being my flesh and blood!

      Turning to issues you forced, I have to react without knowing whosoever you are, since you seem to like disguising yourself. Unlike you, I am public in what I am doing and thinking. You masquerade yourself as mere ‘wetar’ (sic.) — an alias that hides your true identity. For that matter, as TPLFite, you could be anything everyone would keep at arms length.

      The advantage of being public is that it shows I have the courage of my conviction. I speak and write about things I believe in, while in your case, from what I garner, your agenda against me is the allegation of being ‘tribalism’. I reject it with all the force within my body and the strength of my mind you are intimidated about.

      Thus regarding me, your guttery TPLFite pen scribbled with no shame: “You will go to the grave with your spirit of hate, much like men of your generation.” TPLF cadres habitually accuse others of Tribalism. It reminds me of the time-honored Ethiopian saying: “ፈስ ያለበት…“ እሚባለው! It is their [your] way of throwing the mud on others, hoping to relatively remain clean.

      The truth is that you are not the first to do so against me or others. Isn’t it the TPLF that has been practicing tribalism in Ethiopia, having made it legal and institutionalizing it under the convenient cover of ethnic federalism? I consider what you scribbled here as mere mudslinging.

      Anyways, if you thought this moment of Tedros Adhanom’s election represents TPLF’s pinnacle, it is fine by me. I noticed already Wednesday morning that, since you have nothing the majority of Ethiopians want, the TPLF has started using Tedros Adhanom’s name for pomp in celebration of 25th anniversary of the Front’s occupation of Addis Abeba. I do believe, this would not last long! You know it too deep inside you!

      I had always known the TPLF would collapse because of its deceitfulness. It is internally rotten. That began when it got second thought about honoring its promises to the Ethiopian people about freedom and democracy. If you are a principled person, what do Ethiopians now have in their country with the TPLF in power?

      It’s the worst repression, some of it cruelly in the scale of fascists that were beaten out of the country at the end of the last major global war. In order to repeat that magnificent feat, the Ethiopian people are bidding their time. The signs were already there in the 2015, less than three months aftervthe stolen election, and in the 2016 popular uprisings.

      Angering the people are also TPLF stealing of lands — urban and rural — nice homes, businesses. Its top members have become richer with stolen resources. Ethiopians do not have any other name for a regime that steals the treasury bills, national bank foreign exchange, gold, minerals, etc., and transports them abroad in suitcases.

      TPLF is also an example of the most atrocious human rights violations, some of it Nazi-esque! Horror among Ethiopians is fear itself, citizens not eing certain to return home safe. People are imprisoned without due process; torture and killings are common. That is what has been happening in most of Ethiopia, in particular Amhara, Oromia, Gambela, the South, Afar, Ogaden, etc. Where not? Isn’t that the main reason why Ethiopia has become one of the top refugee producing nations?

      Whatever your true identity is, how can you justify this against the Ethiopian people?

      Wouldn’t those attest to your lack of principles, in praising this tribalist and criminal regime as system of government for Ethiopia?

      Loving Ethiopia means like Teddy Afro, whom your regime has been persecuting because he refuses to praise your crime or leave the country. If you indeed loved Teddy Afro’s music, as you seem to falsely suggest, you would be crying for Ethiopia that is sinking on a daily basis; you should be tearing for its persecuted children, for those that stand for freedom, their dignity and evrryone languishing in your gulags! Now you have the temerity to talk about principle, loving Ethiopia? Forget it!

      In your disregard for anything past in Ethiopia and its citizens, I sense something unhealthy in you. Is it you’re your lack of sincerity in your heart that has shaped your conflicting attitude toward Ethiopia, sometimes bordering hatred? Your internal struggle and that of your likes in the TPLF is often showing conflicted personality and thus the cruelty toward non-Tigrean Ethiopiabs you guys are filled with!

      Ethiopians, unlike TPLF members, have the highest regard for their nation and its history, notwithstanding it has a lot to be improved upon.

      The TPLF, the party you are rooting for, has instead its members loving it when they rob it and singularly benefit themseves and Tigrean members. May be you have some hod aders (ሆድ አደሮች) from all other groups. Thus, you guys are discriminating against a total of ninety percent of Ethiopians. They are disenfranchised, imprisoned without due process and tortured, under your internationally-condemned notorious anti-terrorism law, dictator Meles Zenawi used to silence dissent in the country, thus obliterating the roots of democracy in Ethiopia’should future.

      The TPLF’s hatred of my generation is understandable. We stood against its secessionist agenda, for that matter, as a hired hand for the EPLF. My generation despises the Front’s people for who they are — non-Ethiopians from the heart. In 1991, they came saddled on EPLF’s back. The party you defend sold Asab to the EPLF, as bribe so it could be in power in Ethiopia.

      You seem to have heard something about honor, but never seem to know it in real life. How could one have a sense of honor, when he is a merchant and dealer in the sale of his country? That’s not what the Amharas, the Oromos, Southern Ethiopians, Afars, Gambellans, Benishangul-Gumuz, Ogadenis are about!

      Your pretentious rejection of what you see in people of my generation originates simply from jealousy. That is because you can’t be us nor don’t know to be anything other than a gong – an empty noise on behalf of your hirers!

      If I am wrong, show you have courage and get out of your tribal curtain & become a person, instead of a faithless cadre, the meaning of which is being an attack dog, as you are now. You attack them (us) because they (we) know better. As individuals too, they are and (we) have something better! 

      Be your maker, the master of your destiny, as I am, instead of a messenger about which your heart is often torn asunder!


      • Ezra May 25, 2017 at 09:12 #

        Greetings Ato Keffyalew,

        * Please respect democracy and approve my comment!

        I do not understand why you are spending so much of your energy trying to attack Dr Tedros? Are you lonely? Do you have a family? Any hobby?

        Please do not write about Dr Tedros anymore. It is a done deal.

        I only wish that you spent (and continue to spend) your energy on making a difference in Ethiopia. Perhaps, collecting and shipping books to the elementary school you attended, building a library in your village (or Quebele) or sponsoring children, etc. All of these are not connected to politics and you will be able to sleep peacefully at night.

        You were a diplomat and served your country. Now you are retired and living comfortably in Norway, why not divert your strong communications skills towards positive thoughts? I bet you will do a great deal if you focus on something positive.

        I admire your energy and writing abilities. Again, use if for good. We are on this planet as temporary residents. We will die one day. But, the question is what kind of impact we did make while we are alive (and physically able) not whom we fought or whom we hated. Rather, we need to leave our finger-prints on the big picture. if we do this, we become God’s partners in making a difference in the world.



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