2 candidates left in fight for World Health Organization post

Tedros will take over on July 1, succeeding Margaret Chan, a Hong Kong native whose decade-long tenure was marred by the agency's fiercely criticised response to the Ebola epidemic in west Africa.

"This allows reporting and response without laboratory confirmation, but in no way indicates that Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former health minister of Ethiopia, is any less qualified to become director general of the WHO", Frieden wrote in a letter to the New York Times.

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

During the third and final round of balloting in Geneva, members of the World Health Assembly voted 133-50 to pick Tedros, as he is known, to be the next director-general, according to unofficial tallies.

Tedros also defeated cardiologist Sania Nishtar of Pakistan for the job.

Many felt it was Africa's turn to lead the agency, and the African Union, representing 54 World Health Organization member states, supported the candidacy of Tedros, who goes by his first name.

Previously the World Health Organization boss select was used to be made by the organisation's executive board comprising a 34-member rotating member States.

He said "all roads lead to universal health coverage".

"This election has been unprecedented in that it brought transparency to the organization, and even greater legitimacy to the director-general", Tedros said.

"I believe in us, in making a difference".

Ethiopian supporters hugged and high-fived each other after the announcement. He will succeed Dr Margaret Chan, who has been WHO's Director-General since 1 January 2007. All three candidates had vowed to overhaul the agency to restore credibility. The United States is committed to helping advance reforms and cultivating greater global health security.

Tedros won a five-year term as head of the World Health Organization today in a first-ever secret ballot election in which each member state held an equal vote regardless of population.

Dr Tedros was well-regarded, particularly by aid donors, for his stewardship of health in the Ethiopian government from 2005 to 2012. He has a doctorate in community health. He's been recognized for his study of malaria in Ethiopia, and in 2011 became the first non-American to receive the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Humanitarian Award.

In a speech given before the election process began on Tuesday afternoon, Tedros said he was "astonished" at the direction his life had taken - from a childhood in Ethiopia, during which his younger brother died of disease, to standing among the final candidates for the leadership of the WHO. As such, his hands-on experience effectively leading the national ministries of health and foreign affairs, wherein he accelerated progress towards increasing equitable access to basic health and nutrition services, will be instrumental for his governance.

Still, Tedros' candidacy also drew controversy.

Other challenges include outbreaks of highly infectious diseases such as Ebola, cholera and yellow fever and a global rise in chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, and also the impact of stress and hardship on mental health and wellbeing.

But the program was carried out by an authoritarian government in Addis Ababa. About 200 protesters demonstrated Monday against his bid outside the U.N.'s Geneva offices. During a campaign in which many people have been calling for more openness at the WHO, Tedros was criticized for Ethiopia's habit of downplaying domestic cholera outbreaks by labeling them acute watery diarrhea.

The job has never before been earned through a competitive election, and health officials from all over the globe thronged the assembly hall in the UN's Geneva headquarters, where voting took place behind closed doors.

While several European nations including the United Kingdom were believed to have been backing Dr. Nabarro, several African nations, and even China, were believed to have backed Dr. Tedros.

  • Zachary Reyes