New WHO chief Tedros — Only abroad a Prophet?

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In Ethiopia, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has reformed the health care system, and many attest to great success. Now he should renew the WHO. However, the designated Director-General is not without controversy.

As a seven year old Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus experienced died, like his two years younger brother. He had died of a disease that would have been in a country with a functioning health system is curable, he says. However, it did not exist in his home country of Ethiopia at that time.

Tedros told this story again and again, since he has applied for the Post of Director-General of the WHO: The death of his brother, says the 52-Year-old, to drive him to today, to fight for better health care. He would not accept that someone has to die, «he just wants to arm», as his family, it was at the time.

Health reforms in Ethiopia

As an adult, studied Tedros in the UK, infectious diseases and holds a doctorate in Public health. Between 2005 and 2012, he received then as Ethiopia’s Minister of health, the opportunity, the health care system to expand.

During these seven years 3500 health centers, 38.000 originated in Ethiopia auxiliary forces for the supply in rural areas, have been set. The number of medical schools increased from 3 to 33, the number of Doctors grew exponentially. The mortality rates due to tuberculosis, and Malaria dropped by 74 and 64 percent. The infections with HIV fell by 90 percent.

Child and maternal mortality has declined in Ethiopia dramatically, however, since Tedros was in office

Tedros is also expected to play a decisive role in improvement of mother-and-child health, for which he was active from 2009 as a Co-Chairman of the WHO programme, «Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health» (PMNCH). In the WHO-supported network of around 700 organizations in 77 countries for the health of mothers and children. From 2012 to 2016, then Tedros was the foreign Minister of Ethiopia. Neither the WHO, nor the world of diplomacy, are to him so foreign.

Support from Africa

Now he will direct the world health organization (WHO). With 133 of 186 votes Tedros won the vote in Geneva against the British UN diplomat, David Nabarro, and the Pakistani cardiologist and activist Sania Nishtar.

Great support he received from the delegates of the 55 African UN Nations, in which the choice largely with the consent has been included: In social media, as here in the case of a Twitter user from Burundi — was reflected in the joy that for the first time an African was elected to this office.

Shimeles Bezabih, spokesman for the Ethiopian community in Switzerland, welcomed Tedros’ appointment: «As health Minister, he has Ethiopia as the first country to Achieve the Millennium development goals in child and maternal mortality,» said Bezabih of the DW. Also, as foreign Minister, Tedros had been successful and had improved Ethiopia’s relations with other countries.

Critical Voices

However, not all country people judge Tedros’ leadership as positive. In particular, members of the Amhara and Oromo, the largest population groups of Ethiopia, came from several European countries in front of the WHO headquarters in Geneva and protested against Tedros, who belongs to the ethnic minority of Tigray. Although only about six percent of Ethiopia’s population, however, is dominated by the since 1991, the ruling coalition of the «Revolutionary Democratic Front Ethiopian people» (EPRDF).

Ethiopians demonstrate in Geneva against their fellow man, the designate of the Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom

The activist Kassahun Adefris of the «Ethiopian task force for human rights and democracy» (EHRDTF) told DW he was concerned about Tedros appointment: «While he was health Minister, many people lost their lives, because he Cholera epidemics was to cover up,» says Adefris. «From my point of view it is very questionable to nominate someone for these Items, commits such mistakes.»

On Twitter there is an Account with the name: «@NoDrTedros4WHO», «KeinDrTedrosFürWHO». There’s the Tedros lack of respect of human rights and announced its choice for the WHO’s the boss is a Disaster and a Testament to the nepotism in the WHO.

Also, Human Rights Watch criticized Tedros during his campaign for the new Post, he worked for an authoritarian state, the repressive against political opponents and journalists the previous.

WHO renew

To one of the primary objectives of the newly elected Director-General declared a safe financing of the WHO. Especially against the Background that US President Donald Trump has announced a reduction in the U.S. contribution, he wanted to broaden the donor base, in order to avoid financial shocks: «If as many countries as possible to contribute something, no matter what amount, that would help,» said Tedros.

But above all, be expected to Tedros reforms, which will allow the WHO in the future, to respond more quickly to humanitarian health crises such as the Ebola epidemic 2013/2014 in West Africa. This is exactly why the WHO had fallen under the leadership of his predecessor, the Chinese Margaret Chan, is massively in the criticism. Tedros said that he had turned the care in his country, he could also renew the WHO.

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