WHO assembly set to choose next chief among 3 candidates

Jane Richards
May 23, 2017

The Chairperson the African Union Commission (AUC) has issued the continent's rallying push for Ethiopia's former health and foreign affairs chief who is a front-runner to become Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Tedros, widely seen as having an in-built advantage because he can call on about 50 African votes, would be the first African head of the WHO.

David Nabarro is up against Ethiopia's Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Sania Nishtar of Pakistan in the race to be named World Health Organization director-general.

The victor will succeed Margaret Chan, a former Hong Kong health director who steps down after 10 years on June 30, leaving a mixed legacy after WHO's slow response to West Africa's Ebola epidemic in 2013-2016 which killed 11,300 people.

As it stands, 185 member states attending WHO's World Health Assembly are eligible to cast ballots Tuesday afternoon.

Before voting started, Tedros, the only non-medical doctor among the three finalists, said it was nearly "pure luck" that he was competing to lead WHO. Margaret Chan, who is ending a 10-year tenure.

"Some of you told me that at times you have felt let down by the World Health Organization, you want it to be more relevant, responsive and reliable".

Pakistan's candidate to be the next director-general of the World Health Organization, cardiologist Dr. Sania Nishtar, said she chose to go into public health after being told the hospital where she worked would start using recycled catheters for patients who couldn't pay.

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His rival for the post, Nabarro, said he knows "how the kitchen works in the UN" and cited lessons learned from WHO's mistake-ridden response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Nishtar cited her experience leading non-governmental organizations, saying the expertise would help her bridge the numerous polarizing situations in public health.

The victor will succeed Dr.

However his election is likely to elicit protests from parts of the Ethiopian diaspora: Tedros was part of a government accused of using controlling tactics, including jailing journalists, to crush dissent.

In his address to delegates, Tedros, the only non-medical doctor in the race, said it was nearly "pure luck" that he was competing to lead WHO.

She says "I will come to your countries not to cut ribbons but to work with you".

Aliko Dangote also noted that "Dr Tedros is a talented public servant who has achieved incredible health gains for Ethiopia, saving millions of lives".

Other reports by VgToday

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