A former Minister of Health and Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Ethiopian emerges Africa’s 1st WHO Director-General

Ethiopian has emerged Africa’s first Director General of the World Health Organisation. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the former Minister of Health and Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, defeated the United Kingdom’s David Nabarro and Pakistan’s Sania Nishtar with a vote of 133 out of 186.

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Tedros is the first African and Medical Practitioner to be elected to lead the global health body.
The Ethiopian was announced winner after three rounds of voting by the 194 members of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

He succeeds the outgoing DG, Dr. Margaret Chan of China, who is stepping down at the end of her tenure on 30 June 2017 after 10 years in office.

The voting which lasted five hours saw Tedros winning the first round with 95 votes, while Nabarro came in second with 52 votes. In accordance with the electoral rules, Nishtar was eliminated after finishing in third place with 38 votes.

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The huge lead notwithstanding, Tedros required two-thirds of the votes to be considered as having a clear and strong majority, and avoid further rounds of voting. He took 121 votes in the second round, against Nabarro’s 62. The final round saw him secure 133 votes, and Nabarro 50.

The election concludes a year-long process that is unprecedented in the history of the UN health Agency, being the first time all member states were given the opportunity to choose the next WHO leader.
The election was through secret ballot, raising eyebrows among some who had been looking forward to a more transparent process.

The significance of having an African steering affairs of the WHO cannot be overemphasized as the new DG has promised to achieve universal health coverage; ensure a robust response to emergencies; strengthen the front lines of health through country ownership; transform the WHO into a world-class workforce; and place accountability, transparency and continuous improvement at its heart.

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