Geneva - Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia is receiving praises from around the world following his election as the new Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Dr. Tedros who endured a rugged Africa's choice to lead the UN, World Health Organization defeated Britain's David Nabarro at the World Health Assembly in Geneva Tuesday.
The final vote was 133 for Ethiopia's former health minister to 50 for Nabarro, with each member state having one vote.
Dr. Lawrence O. Gostin, University Professor, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, in a statement to FrontPageAfrica heaped praise on Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on his election as WHO Director-General.
Dr. Gostin said as the first African head of WHO and as a leader in building robust health systems, Dr. Tedros has a historic opportunity to transform WHO.
“The success of the Organization is too important to the world's health for anything but a successful transformation, so I call on all advocates for the right to health to support him. And I call on the new DG to embrace a progressive, rights-based leadership of WHO.”
Added Dr. Gostin: “Dr. Tedros will lead WHO at the most pivotal moment in its history, with its legitimacy badly eroded due to the weak response to the Ebola epidemic.
WHO's success is vital to health around the world, and Dr. Tedros will have to restore its reputation as a competent, professional, and accountable organization. His very first step in office should be a full-throated endorsement of human rights and the right to health.”
Dr. Gostin averred that given Ethiopia's record of human rights abuses, it is vital for Dr. Tedros to speak truth to power and condemn all violations of human rights.
“At the same time, he must embrace WHO's founding mission of standing up for the right to health. Gaining the respect of civil society is equally important to ensure bottom-up advocacy for WHO's strategy, programs, and funding.
He should immediately convene civil society leaders -- from global leaders to grassroots leaders from marginalized communities -- to ensure full participation in WHO governance decisions.” Dr. Tedros was involved in a late battle to win the WHO leadership amid criticism from his rival from Dr. Nabarro, who took aim at Dr. Tedros, accusing him of Covering up three cholera epidemics in Ethiopia, when he was health minister.
Dr. Tedros strongly denied the allegations and insisting that he was not surprised at all but quite disappointed that Dr. Nabarro’s camp – which he said included high-ranking British Health officials – had switched to running ‘a last-minute smear campaign to shatter his bid.
Several prominent figures came to Dr. Tedros’s aide including Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, a physician specializing in infectious diseases and public health, and former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who in a letter to the New York Times dismissed suggestions that Dr. Tedros was responsible for the mishap in Ethiopia.
Dr. Frieden added that multiple independent evaluations have confirmed that under Dr. Tedros’s leadership, Ethiopia is one of the few countries in Africa to have rapidly reduced infant mortality and achieved the Millennium Development Goal in this area.
“Cholera can be a devastating disease, but rapid action saves lives and stops outbreaks.
Dr. Tedros created a network of nearly 40,000 female community health workers who were trained, supported and supervised to implement programs, including oral rehydration therapy, that prevents death from diarrhea and other causes.”
Dr. Tedros received an overwhelming backing from the African continent although Liberia in the early stages of the process was leaning toward support for France, whose candidate, Douste-Blazy had selected Health Minister Dr. Bernice Dahn, as his running mate.
In an interview on France 24 TV Channel, conducted with Minister Dahn and Douste-Blazy, the Liberian Health Minister promised to support Douste-Blazy and also persuade other African countries to do so.
The French channel stated that both Dr. Dahn and Douste-Blazy were contesting as a set and on the same ticket, but Blazy did not make the cut.