Health Care

New WHO chief: Planned US funding cuts not a 'closed issue'

New WHO chief: Planned US funding cuts not a 'closed issue'”

Ethiopian official Tedros Adhanom Gheybreysus has been elected director-general of the World Health Organization.

In addition to having served as health minister, Tedros was Ethiopia's foreign minister from 2012 to 2016 and is seen as a skilled diplomat - an important skill at a time when the WHO faces potentially deeper budget challenges.

"They had a tough fight, but a very good fight", she added, acknowledging the two other contenders, Pakistan's Sania Nishtar of Pakistan and David Nabarro of Britain, in their efforts throughout the election. Tedros received 133 votes to Nabarro's 50, with two abstentions.

The third candidate, Pakistan's Dr. Sania Nishtar, was eliminated in the first round.

Chan steps down on June 30 after a decade in which new epidemics such as bird flu and Ebola and decades-old campaigns against malaria, AIDS and malnutrition highlighted the complex health burden shouldered by the WHO.

"It's a victory day for Ethiopia and for Africa", Ethiopia's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Negash Kebret Botora said before Tedros, as he is widely known, was to take the floor at the WHO's annual ministerial assembly.

The new head of the World Health Organization doesn't believe the Trump administration's calls to slash funding for global aid and United Nations agencies like his is a "closed issue". She said she made a decision to go into public health after being told that the hospital where she worked in Pakistan would start using recycled catheters for patients who couldn't pay.

A former health minister from Ethiopia takes over an agency that's struggled recently to find the funding and exert the political leadership it needs to tackle the world's health problems.

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Second to speak was Nabarro, who acknowledged that some have felt "let down" by World Health Organization and want it to be more relevant, responsive and reliable.

Dr. Ghebreyesus outlined his vast experience as Ethiopia's minister for Health, saying he oversaw the construction of more than 16,000 health posts and 3,000 health centers as well as the deployment of more than 40,000 health extension officers across the country. Previously, the director-general was selected by the WHO's executive board, then endorsed by the WHA.

Michael Bloomberg, whose Bloomberg Philanthropies works on a number of global health issues, also weighed in, calling Tedros "an exceptional leader" in public health.

The agency has stumbled in recent years, most notably in its error-prone response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and all three candidates vowed to overhaul its organization to restore credibility.

"He has the credentials, the diplomatic skills, and the management experience to effectively lead the World Health Organization during one of the most critical moments in its history".

Corrects this entry to say that he was seven years old.

Among his priorities as head of WHO include advancing universal health coverage, ensuring rapid and effective responses to disease outbreaks and emergencies and moving to a more transparent and accountable agency.

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