WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus will get another term after key appointment

In the meantime, the main source of opposition came from Tedros’ own country. (To file)

Geneva, Switzerland:

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is virtually assured of a second term after a procedural vote on Tuesday made him the only candidate ahead of a leadership election in May.

The UN health agency’s first African leader said he was “very grateful for the renewed support”, after the WHO board held a secret ballot vote approving his nomination as the sole candidate for the job.

Tedros, one of the most recognizable figures in the global battle against Covid-19, acknowledged his first five-year term had been “challenging and challenging”, and said it was a “great honour” to serve. have the opportunity to continue the battle.

The former Ethiopian minister of health and foreign affairs is therefore expected to be a candidate for re-election when the WHO’s 194 member states vote for the next director-general in May.

Since Covid-19 burst onto the world stage more than two years ago, the 56-year-old malaria specialist has received widespread praise for the way he has led the WHO through the crisis.

African countries in particular have been delighted with the attention given to the continent and its relentless campaign for the poorest countries to get their fair share of Covid vaccines.

Criticism of Ethiopia

In the meantime, the main source of opposition came from Tedros’ own country.

The Ethiopian government criticized his comments on the humanitarian situation in his home region of Tigray, which has been plagued by a 14-month conflict.

After Tedros earlier this month described conditions there as “hell” and accused the government of blocking medicine and other life-saving aid from reaching desperate residents, Addis Ababa demanded he be investigated for “misconduct and breach of professional and legal responsibility”.

Ethiopia, however, does not seem to have much support in its criticism.

“He did indeed speak forcefully, but what he says corresponds to facts observed by the heads of all humanitarian agencies,” a Western diplomatic source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“There was no misconduct.”

Addis Ababa has blocked the African Union from unanimously backing Tedros’ nomination, but several African countries, including Kenya and Rwanda, are among the 28 mostly European nations that have formally nominated his name.

“Zero tolerance” for abuse

The United States is also now largely supportive of the WHO chief.

It marks a major about-face since the start of the pandemic, when former President Donald Trump’s administration began pulling the US out of the WHO, accusing it of being Beijing’s puppet and help conceal the initial outbreak.

Trump’s successor Joe Biden halted the withdrawal, and Washington voiced stronger support for Tedros as he struck a tougher tone with China, demanding greater transparency about the origins of the outbreak.

Beijing has chastised the WHO chief for some of the comments, but still says it supports his candidacy.

Beyond the pandemic, Tedros has faced a barrage of criticism, including from countries supporting his bid for a second term, for his handling of devastating allegations of rape and sexual assault by aid workers. , including 21 WHO staff fighting Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo between 2018 and 2020.

Tedros told the board he was “horrified” by the reports, insisting the WHO had “zero tolerance for sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment”.

Important reform

Tedros’ second term will likely be dominated by the daunting task of bolstering the WHO, whose weaknesses have been laid bare as the pandemic has battered the planet.

Many countries are demanding significant reforms, but the extent and form of the changes have yet to be defined, with some countries concerned that a stronger WHO will encroach on their sovereignty.

Tedros is also calling for sweeping reform of WHO funding, warning that it does not have the funds to respond to the many crises being asked to respond around the world.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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