Ethiopia’s Foreign affairs Minister Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has received strong backing from African countries including Rwanda, to head the World Health Organization.
Rwanda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Government Spokesperson, Louise Mushikiwabo, referred to Dr Adhanom, 51, as one of the best qualified individuals to run the World Health Organisation.
She made the remarks during a news conference yesterday to give an update on the preparations for the upcoming African Union Summit slated for July 10-18 in Kigali.
A new WHO Director General will assume office in May next year.
Mushikiwabo, who was in Geneva last month to participate in the launch of Dr Adhanom’s candidature, also pointed out that, in addition to having an excellent candidate from Africa, it was high-time the continent fully participated in global issues.
“We do have a great candidate and we think it’s time for Africa to run the World Health Organisation,” Mushikiwabo told journalists at the news conference.
No African has ever led the World Health Organisation.
Dr Adhanom was formally endorsed by the entire continent in January during the Summit of Heads of State in Addis Ababa as Africa’s candidate for the position.
This should guarantee 54 votes when the 194-member nations make elect in May next year.
Other candidates Philippe Douste-Blazy, former French health minister and Sania Nishtar, former health minister Sania Nishtar of Pakistan.
Dr Adhanom, previously served as Ethiopia’s health minister, from 2005 to 2012, before he was appointed Foreign Minister.
He is an internationally recognised malaria researcher, and has also served as chair of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has praised Dr Tedros’ track record.
“Dr Tedros’ signature approach takes innovation, collaboration and community ownership as core principles. The transformative changes he brought to Ethiopia’s health sector are testimonies to his unique leadership style that gives primacy to country ownership and adaptive home-grown solutions,” the Prime Minister is quoted as saying.
“Through his leadership of global organisations, he has introduced reforms that helped them live up to the challenges of the day. I am proud to nominate Dr Tedros, a transformational leader and unrelenting champion of global health, for the WHO Director General post.”
If appointed, the Ethiopian academic and politician will take over from Dr Margaret Chan, a Hong Kong Chinese and Canadian physician, who was first appointed by the World Health Assembly on November 9, 2006. The Assembly appointed Dr Chan for a second five-year term in May 2012.