Luminary health champion Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus set to carry on as WHO chief

ERITREA – Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) since 2017, is the sole candidate to lead the World Health Organization once his current term expires, the WHO has announced.

In his application letter, the Ethiopian former health and foreign minister said COVID-19 had “ravaged the world” and in a second term, he wanted to make sure the planet was “truly ready” to deal with another such crisis.

His current five-year mandate runs out in August.

“A single candidate was proposed by member states by the September 23, 2021 deadline: Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,” the WHO said in a statement.

Tedros was nominated by 28 countries, the UN health agency said. 17 European Union members gave him their backing, including Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

Tedros, 56, graduated with a biology degree in his homeland before completing a masters in immunology of infectious diseases and a doctorate in community health in Britain.

He worked as a field-level malariologist in Ethiopia before leading a regional health bureau and then joining the government, working his way up the ministerial ranks.

In 2017, Tedros became the first African candidate to head the powerful UN agency. His general bonhomie stands in marked contrast to the frostiness of his predecessor Margaret Chan.

He has been the public face of the WHO since the Covid-19 crisis began, and is relatively popular due to his role in steering the organization’s efforts to coordinate the pandemic response.

Aside from championing global receovery from Covid-19, Dr Tedros’s voice has been particularly loud in helping the Africa continent combat covid-19 and also in improving healthcare systems in the continent.

In July, when most of the Western countries had achieved great milestones n vaccinating their populations against covid-19, and started campaigning for booster doses, Dr Tedros stood firmly against those campaigns, sighting the disadvantage it would bring to the developing world.

The director-general of the World Health Organization also issued a stinging rebuke to Pfizer and other vaccine manufacturers focused on developing — and selling — Covid-19 vaccine booster shots to high-income countries, saying they should focus instead on providing vaccine to nations that have had little access to first doses.

“We’re making conscious choices right now not to protect those in most need,” Tedros said in Geneva.

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