Tedros Adhanom, WHO chief re-elected.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s first African leader, was re-elected Tuesday with overwhelming support after standing uncontested for a second term.
The director-general had garnered more than two-thirds of the required secret ballot votes, but the UN health agency could not disclose a breakdown.
According to sources in the room, he earned 155 of the 160 votes cast.
“I am very humbled by the support,” Tedros said to thunderous applause after his re-election was revealed.
“This honor is not only for me. I really think that this is recognition for the whole WHO family. I’m quite pleased to be WHO.”
Tedros has become a recognizable figure as he leads the worldwide response to the coronavirus epidemic, a subject that is still front and center at the World Health Organization’s annual meeting this week in Geneva.
Former Ethiopian ministers of health and foreign affairs have increasingly raised concerns about the severe toll that wars like the one in Ukraine are bearing on world health.
“War disturbs and shatters the foundations on which formerly stable civilizations stood more than pandemics,” the 57-year-old malaria specialist stated on the opening day of the World Health Assembly on Sunday.
“And it leaves psychological wounds that might take years or decades to heal,” he said, emphasizing his own personal experiences.
“I am a child of war,” he continued, his voice breaking with sorrow.
“I had the same anxiety as a parent myself… and my children had to hide in a bunker to cover from the shelling” when war came to Ethiopia in 1998.
“I experience the same sorrow and grief again today,” he added, referring to the fighting that has raged in his native province of Tigray since late 2020.
“Not simply a kid of war, but following me throughout,” Tedros said.
In a divided society, the global community cannot solve the mountain of health crises and difficulties we confront, like the Covid-19 crisis and impending pandemic risks.
He went on to say that “peace is a requirement for wellness.”
That is a message he is anxious to spread as he prepares to begin his second five-year term in office on August 16.
His first tenure was tumultuous, as he dealt not only with the worldwide response to the epidemic but also with a slew of other problems, including a sexual abuse scandal involving WHO personnel in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
While Tedros has received some criticism, he has also gotten widespread support.
African countries, in particular, have been impressed with his dedication to the region and his unrelenting push to ensure that poorer nations get a fair amount of Covid vaccinations.
Tedros has gained support in Washington after the arrival of US Vice President Joe Biden.
That was a significant shift from the beginning of the epidemic, when Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, started pushing the US out of the WHO, accusing it of being Beijing’s puppet and aiding in the cover-up of the original Covid outbreak.
Ironically, Tedros’s own nation has been the major source of criticism.
Ethiopia’s government, enraged by his statements on the severe humanitarian situation in Tigray, accused him of “abusing his post” to spread propaganda.
But those arguments seem to have failed, and Tedros may now enter his second term with a strong mandate.
With the Covid-19 epidemic still raging and calls for substantial changes in the whole global health system to help prevent such crises in the future, there is no lack of problems ahead.
And new health threats are already on the horizon, including strange hepatitis that has sickened children in numerous nations, as well as an increase in monkeypox cases outside of Central and West Africa, where the illness is generally concentrated.