There were three candidates in the fray for the top post at the WHO.

Dr Tedros from Ethiopia is the new WHO chief major win for African nationsImage: Russell Watkins/Department for International Development via Wikimedia Commons
news Global Health Tuesday, May 23, 2017 - 22:26

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus from Ethiopia has been elected as the Director General of the World Health Organization. Following 3 rounds of secret ballot at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday, Dr. Tedros was announced as the winning candidate. He had the support of at least 122 out of 186 member-states which voted.

There were three candidates in the fray for the top post at the WHO to succeed Dr. Margaret Chan, whose term comes to an end on July 1, 2017.  The other two candidates were Dr. Sania Nishtar of Pakistan and Dr. David Nabarro of the UK.

The election was held in 2 rounds, and Dr. Nishtar, the candidate with the least support, was voted out of the race in the first round. At the end of the second round, Dr. Tedros is said to have achieved near 2/3rd majority, prompting a concession from his closest opponent, Dr Nabarro. 

The polling was preceded by a controversial campaign which saw Dr. Tedros at the eye of protests at the WHO HQ. Several protesters from Ethiopia gathered outside the venue, accusing him of mishandling a cholera outbreak in Ethiopia during his term as the health minister of the country. One of the protesters also managed to enter the press gallery of the WHO session on Monday, and shouted slogans against Dr. Tedros before Dr. Chan began her parting speech. Protesters demanded that that the African nations backing Dr. Tedros’ nomination change their mind.

While several European nations including the UK were believed to have been backing Dr. Nabarro, several African nations, and even China, were believed to have backed Dr. Tedros. Dr. Nishtar could have got the backing from Islamic countries, although she has always maintained that she does not represent any particular region.

Out of the 194 member-states of WHO, 4 were barred from voting over outstanding payment of dues to the WHO, and 4 others were absent.

Dr. Tedros was appointed as the DG-elect at a ceremony at the WHO HQ.

Dr. Tedros is an Ethiopian politician and academic who has held the posts of both minister of health and minister of foreign affairs. An internationally recognized malaria researcher, he was the Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia.

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