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Tedros Ghebreyesus: Top 5 Fascinating Facts Every African Should Know About WHO’s First African DG

Tedros Ghebreyesus is an Ethiopian conspicuous figure in legislative issues, academics, and the public health sector.

Leaving a mark on the world in more than 6 years of the UN health agency, Tedros rose the champ of the election. This will make him the 8th Director-General of the World Health Organization.

He will supplant the outgoing WHO Director General, Margaret Chan on July 1, 2017.

After 3 rounds of voting. Tedros beat two other high rated contenders from the United Kingdom and Pakistan. The Ethiopian and former health minister allegedly won the race with more than 66%. He won most votes from 186 member states.

The competitors for the position were 54-year old Dr. Sania Nishtar from Pakistan and 67-year old Dr. David Nabarro from Britain.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus over the course of serving the Ethiopian government has demonstrated his passion and spirit of service.

He particularly impressed Ethiopia and indeed the global health sector during his time as Minister of Health of Ethiopia.

The health enthusiast was born on 3 March 1965 in Asmara to Adhanom Gebreyesus and Melashu Weldegabir. He is a husband and father of 5 children.

Tedros Ghebreyesus

Below are 5 more interesting facts about the new WHO Director General:

1. A two-time Ethiopian Minister:

In 2005 Tedros became the Minister of Health till 2012. From that same year to to 2016, he also served as the Ethiopian Foreign minister.

2. The first WHO Director-General from Africa


Almost clocking 70-years of WHO’s existence, this is the first time an African occupied the position of the Director General.

His job description as the DG includes:

  • Creating a wider universal health coverage
  • Ensuring that the WHO gives a prompt and effective response to disease outbreaks and emergencies
  • Prioritizing the well-being of women, children and adolescents across the globe
  • Assisting nations in terms of climate change effects on health.
  • Promoting transparency and accountability in the agency

3. The first non-physician to be elected to the post

Usually the occupants of this position are medical doctors. As fate would have it, Tedros Ghebreyesus though with a wealth of experience in health matters is not a professional medical doctor.

Tedros obtained his Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Biology from the University of Asmara in 1986.

Furthering his education, he obtained a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Immunology of Infectious Diseases from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

In 2000, he attained a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Community Health from the University of Nottingham.

4. He transformed Ethiopian Ministry of Health

Tedros did outstandingly well while working in the Ethiopian Ministry of Health. In the space of 3 years, he saw to the building of 4,000 health centres. Over 30,000 health extension workers were trained and deployed.

Thanks to his efforts, hospital management professionals in Ethiopia were upgraded to standard.

Under his watch, Ethiopia was chosen by the US State Department as one of the US Global Health Initiative Plus countries in 2010.

5. An internationally recognized malaria researcher

Tedros Ghebreyesus is dedicated to the cause of fighting malaria. He says his passion to see the eradication of the disease is traced to his childhood.

His doctorate thesis was on The effects of dams on malaria transmission in Tigray Region, northern Ethiopia, and appropriate control measures.

By July 2009, he was elected Board Chair of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. He served in that capacity for 2 terms.


Written by How Africa

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