The newly-elected WHO Director-General congratulated by IUATLD

A day after he became the first African to head the WHO, the former Ethiopian health minister told reporters in Geneva he had been in touch with many countries willing to help fill the gap if the United States slashes funding.

Prior to his election as WHO's next Director-General, Dr Ghebreyesus served as Foreign Affairs Minister of Ethiopia from 2012-2016 and as Health Minister from 2005-2012.

Ghebreyesus will succeed former director general - Hong Kong's Margaret Chan - to begin his five-year term with the WHO.

He beat out Britain's Dr. David Nabarro and Pakistan's Dr. Sania Nishtar for the role.

The long wait is over: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been elected as the World Health Organization's new director-general by the World Health Assembly. In an address in front of the World Health Assembly shortly before voting took place, BBC quoted Tedros to have promised a more rapid and effective response to future emergencies. The WHO, as was the case during the elimination round in January, did not release the final breakdown of votes.

Nabarro, who was the western-backed candidate, is the Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the world organisation's Sustainable Development Agenda, and had been former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's envoy for dealing the Ebola epidemic that ravaged parts of Africa during 2014-15.

Under his watch, Ethiopia also established a financing mechanism to expand health insurance coverage.

Late in the campaign, a supporter of Nabarro's questioned Tedros's record in Ethiopia, saying the country had covered up cholera outbreaks that should have been declared to the WHO.

Welcoming the choice, Women Deliver has said his appointment comes at a time when the world needs a fierce and proactive advocate for gender equality and the health, rights and wellbeing of girls and women more than ever.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been voted the next leader of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Of the United Nations health agency's 194 member states, 185 were eligible to cast ballots; nine others were either in arrears on their dues or not represented at the gathering.

The attention though will now shift to the priorities that the WHO chalks out to steer public health across the globe, as its first chief from Africa readies to take charge in little over a month from now. Nabarro, a WHO insider, has 40 years of experience in the global public health domain.

  • Leroy Wright