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10 Things to Know About Africa’s WHO Candidate, Dr. Tedros Adhanom

By Shaban Abdur Rahman Alfa

Ethiopia's Tedros Adhanom

Africa, Europe and South Asia will battle it out for who leads the United Nations (UN) health outfit, the World Health Organization (WHO).

The African candidate is a former Ethiopian technocrat and diplomat who is aiming to be the first African to occupy the topmost position in global healthcare management.

Here are ten top facts about Africa’s WHO candidate.

1. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has held two ministerial portfolios in Ethiopia – Health (2005 – 2012) and Foreign Affairs (2012 – 2016)

2. He has by far been the most vibrant social media (Twitter) campaigner among the three finalists. @DrTedros has over 227,000 followers.

3. He holds a PhD in Community Health and boasts of having technical and political competences that can help the WHO to move forward – as a health expert and seasoned diplomat.

4. He received the endorsement of the African Union (AU) in January 2016 during the 26th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly.

5. He will become the first African Director-General to lead the WHO and also the first non-physician Public Health Specialist.


6. One of his priorities is to expand the funding base of the WHO and increase member states’ contribution.

7. In July 2009, he was elected Board Chair of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – a post he held for a two-year term.

8. He did not entirely leave the Ethiopian civil service space after resigning as Foreign Affairs chief, he continued as a special advisor to the Prime Minister.

9. He is credited with overhauling Ethiopia’s entire healthcare structure which was highly challenged. His reforms led to dramatic gains in indicators such as child and maternal health.

10. He was born in neighbouring Eritrea on March 3, 1965 – currently he is 52 years old.

The Director-General is WHO’s chief technical and administrative officer and oversees the organization’s international health work.

The current Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan, was appointed in 2006 and will complete her second term on 30 June this year.

His other two contenders are Dr. David Nabarro of Britain – who is seen as Tedros’ main contender. The third candidate is Dr. Sania Nishtar, a Pakistani physician.


Written by PH

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