Ethiopian Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was voted as the Director General of the World Health Organization after winning over 66% of the required votes defeating his closest challenger, UK’s David Nabarro.
In nearly 70 years of the agency’s existence, Ghebreyesus, the former Ethiopian health minister, is the first non-physician to get elected.
During the session, he noted that only half of people today currently have access to health care without risking impoverishment.
As Ethiopia’s health minister, he turned around an ailing system and led a reform of the country’s health section creating 3500 medical centers and increased the medical workforce by 38,000 — the vast majority of them women.
His leadership during this time was praised by former USAID administrator Ariel Pablos-Mendez, who wrote in an opinion piece for CNN: “Ethiopia has fallen short in some health markers… but by almost any measure, it is showing the way to a new era in world health. The basis of this progress has been innovative leadership by Dr. Tedros”
In an interview with The Lancet last year, Ghebreyesus vowed to advance universal health coverage and expand access to medicine and services for diseases ilke HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, diabetes, cancer and mental health conditions.
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