Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus becomes First African to Head WHO

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia elected as the new Director-General of WHO

52-year-old Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus from Ethiopia will be the next director general of the World Health Organization (WHO).

He will be the first African to head up the UN agency, after winning the most votes from 186 member states.

He replaces Margaret Chan, who will step down from her 10-year post at the end of June.

During her tenure, the WHO’s response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa was criticised for being too slow.

The agency was accused of missing key warning signs about the severity of the outbreak that began in December 2013 and ultimately killed more than 11,000 people.

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Addressing the World Health Assembly shortly before the vote, Dr. Tedros promised to respond to future emergencies “rapidly and effectively”.

He also promised to stand up for the rights of the poor.

Margaret Chan and Tedros Ghebreyesus
The Old and the New WHO Chief, Dr. Margaret Chan and Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus

“All roads should lead to universal health coverage. I will not rest until we have met this.”

Dr. Tedros is married, with five children and lives in Ethiopia. He was Ethiopian minister of health and foreign affairs, chairman of the board of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB and Malaria.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is an internationally recognised malaria researcher, with a PhD in community health.

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