An Ethiopian becomes first African to head World Health Organization

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus becomes first Ethiopian to head World Health Organization

Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been elected as the new head of the World Health Organization (WHO), becoming the first African to lead the United Nations health agency.

According to Al Jazeera, Dr. Tedros received ‘more than half the votes in the first round and eventually won a decisive third-round election’, defeating the UK’s David Nabarro.

His overwhelming victory of 133 votes to Nabarro’s 50 in the third round of voting was directly attributed to the ‘powerful backing of the 55-nation African Union’.

Dr. Tedros (52), a former health minister in Ethiopia will be taking over from Margaret Chan, who steps down at the end of June 2017. Chan has spent 10 years at the helm of the health agency.

According to the BBC, his top five priorities in his new job are:

  • Advancing universal health coverage
  • Ensuring WHO responds rapidly and effectively to disease outbreaks and emergencies
  • Putting the wellbeing of women, children and adolescents at the centre of global health and development
  • Helping nations address the effects of climate change on health
  • Making the agency transparent and accoutnable

The election of Dr. Tedros as the new Director of the WHO marks the first time the health agency is utilizing a democratic process in selecting a leader.

Dr. Tedros, who resides in Ethiopia and is married with five children, has promised to make universal healthcare – where everyone has access to affordable care when and where they need it – central to his mandate.

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