In January 2016, the twenty-sixth ordinary session of the Assembly of the African Union endorsed Dr. Tedros Adhanom candidature for the next election of the Director-General of the World Health Organisation as a sole African candidate. On 23 May 2017, the 70th World Health Assembly elected him to serve as the WHO’s Director-General. He will take office on 1 July 2017 and will be the first Director-General from Africa.
Here are 10 Things you need to Know About him -Dr. Tedros Adhanom- the First ever African Director-General of World health organuzation (WHO).
1. Early life
He was born in neighbouring Eritrea on March 3, 1965 to Ethiopian parents Adhanom Gebreyesus and Melashu Weldegabir – currently he is 52 years old.
In 1986 he received his Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Biology from the University of Asmara and joined the Ministry of Health of the Derg as a junior public health expert.
He later returned to the university to pursue a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Immunology of Infectious Diseases from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
He subsequently received a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Community Health from the University of Nottingham in 2000, with a doctoral dissertation on “The effects of dams on malaria transmission in Tigray Region, northern Ethiopia, and appropriate control measures”.
3. Education cont’d
He holds a PhD in Community Health and boasts of having technical and political competences that can help the WHO to move forward – as a health expert and seasoned diplomat.
4. Previously held positions
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has held two ministerial portfolios in Ethiopia – Health (2005 – 2012) and Foreign Affairs (2012 – 2016)
He has also served as Board Chair of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – a post he held for a two-year term.
During his tenure as board chair, Dr Tedros guided the Global Fund to address significant challenges and to make important decisions that has led to the development of a comprehensive reform agenda and a more efficient and effective Global Fund.
During his tenure as Ethiopia’s health minister, overseeing the expansion of basic health services across the country And In less than 7 years he built more than 16,000 health posts, 3,000 health centers, deployed more than 40,000 health extension workers.
6. Awards and recognition
A globally recognized malaria researcher, Dr. Tedros has co-authored numerous articles on this subject and other global health issues in prominent scientific publications.
His seminal work earned him the distinction of Young Investigator of the Year from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and in 2003 he received the Young Public Health Researcher Award from the Ethiopian Public Health Association.
In 2011, Dr. Tedros also became the first non-American recipient of the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Humanitarian Award conferred by the US National Foundation of Infectious Diseases.
In March 2012, he received the prestigious Honorary Fellowship from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Stanley T. Woodward Lectureship, Yale University (2012). He also received the Women Deliver Award for Perseverance for his tireless efforts to improve the lives of women and girls at the fourth Women Deliver Conference on May 19, 2016.
7. He was One of the 100 most influential Africans for 2015
The New African Magazine, a best selling pan African magazine published in the UK, listed Dr. Tedros as one of the 100 most influential Africans for 2015 in the category of politics and public service. The magazine named him as ” the trailblazer” and signified his reformist agenda as Minister of Health of Ethiopia. His role as a key player in Ethiopia′s strategic regional interventions and mediation in Sudan and Somalia contributed hugely for his naming as one of Africa′s influential people for 2015.
8. Candidacy for the Director General of WHO
Dr Tedros officially announced his candidacy for the post of the Director-General of the World Health Organisation on May 24, 2016 in the margins of the 69th World Health Assembly; He was the sole African candidate with endorsement from African Union and Ministers of Health of the continent. He became the first African to head up the UN agency, after winning the most votes from 186 member states.
9. He is the First African to be elected Director General of WHO
He will become the first African Director-General to lead the WHO and also the first non-physician Public Health Specialist. He would be stepping into his new job on July 1, 2017.
10. His Plans For the world
Dr Tedros said his vision as the new director general was of “a world in which everyone can lead health and productive lives, regardless of who they are or where they live”.
His top five priorities in his new job are:
- Advancing universal health coverage.
Ensuring WHO responds rapidly and effectively to disease outbreaks and emergencies.
- Putting the wellbeing of women, children and adolescents at the centre of global health and development.
Helping nations address the effects of climate change on health.
- Making the agency transparent and accountable.