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Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom Becomes First African Director-General of the World Health Organization

The World Health Organisation has elected Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as its next Director-General.

By his appointment, the new DG is the first African to head the world body.

He takes over from the outgoing DG, Dr. Margaret Chan, who had enjoyed two tenures.

Dr. Chan was first appointed on November 9, 2006. The Assembly appointed her for a second five-year term at its 65th session in May 2012. Her current term began on July 1, 2012. She will step down on June 30, 2017.

The global advocate for girls and women, Women Deliver, had congratulated the new DG, saying his appointment comes at a time when the world needs a fierce and proactive advocate for gender equality and the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women more than ever.

Detailing the trail-blazing records of the new director general, Women Deliver in an email had written, “Dr. Tedros’ track record of strengthening health systems and training community-based female health workers to expand reproductive and maternal health in Ethiopia, including family planning services, gives us hope that he will be the unwavering champion for girls and women the global development community wants and needs.

“Throughout the campaign, he pledged to make the health of women, children, and adolescents a focus of his tenure.

“As Dr. Tedros and this community know all too well, actions speak louder than words. Starting with his first 100 days as Director-General, Dr. Tedros must start fulfilling the promises he made on the campaign trail, and then some.

The world’s most powerful health agency needs a leader who advocates for gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights as a net positive for all. He must consistently prioritize girls and women as powerful agents of change and drivers of development.


“Equally important, he must strengthen the WHO’s gender balance and engagement with young people and civil society not just because it’s the right thing to do, but the sound thing to do.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Middle) immediately after his election. Photo: WHO

“We at Women Deliver are excited to work closely with Dr. Tedros to prioritize girls and women, not just because they are disproportionately affected by global challenges, but because girls and women are powerful agents of change who lift up everyone around them,” said Katja Iversen, President/CEO of Women Deliver. “Investments in the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women are not optional, but foundational to catalytic reform and progress for all.”

Make no mistake: assuming the role of WHO Director-General will not be easy – particularly in the current political environment. But we’re confident that with courage, conviction, and the support of others, Dr. Tedros will make us proud.

“We wish him the best of luck!”


Written by PH

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