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Ethiopia’s Tedros elected to head WHO

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

May 23, 2017, (ADDIS ABABA) - Ethiopia’s former health and foreign minister has been elected as the new director general of World Health Organisation (WHO) at an election held on Tuesday afternoon in Geneva.

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Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom speaks during a news conference in Algiers June 30, 2013 (REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina)

Tedros defeated Dr David Nabarrag of Britain and Dr Sania Nishtar of Pakistan in an election that took place at WHO assembly behind closed doors.

The new elect swept 133 votes and two abstentions over his main rival Nabarro who only secured 50 votes in an election eligible 185 member States of the total 194 WHO’s member States cast ballots.

Winning this election, Tedros has become the first African to head the WHO top post.

He has also become the non-medical doctor to win the global health organisation. He has a doctorate in community health.

The former Ethiopian health minister will assume office on 1 July succeeding Margaret Chan of China.

Tedros pledged he will transform WHO into the world-class workforce and to place accountability, transparency and sustainable improvement in the culture of WHO.

Last week Tedros was accused by his main rival Navarro’s advisors of allegedly covering up three cholera outbreaks while he was the health minister in Ethiopia.

The accusations immediately sparked anger among his supporters who staged protests during proceedings at the WHO assembly.

Previously the WHO boss select was used to be made by the organisation’s executive board comprising a 34-member rotating member States.

However, this is the first time for WHO to allow a vote for WHO’s top post.

Tedros served as Ethiopian health minister from 2005-2012 during when he managed to boost health care access across Ethiopia by creating over 3,500 health centres and deploying nearly 40,000 Army of health workers.

Here in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian leaders Including the prime minister, the foreign minister and the President have congratulated Tedros for his success.

"Tedros election is a testimony of Ethiopia’s acceptance by the international community," said Ethiopian prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn.

Ethiopian Foreign minister, Workneh Gebeywhu to his side said "The victory is the result of Ethiopia’s success in diplomacy".

(ST)

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