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As health minister of Ethiopia, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saw the impact of disease outbreaks and poor health care firsthand. He witnessed how malaria could devastate an agricultural workforce and leave crops unharvested. “It was really mind boggling, and for me it was unacceptable,” he recalled. During his tenure, he set out to overcome some of his country’s greatest health challenges and saw dramatic gains in indicators such as child and maternal health.
Now as a candidate for the World Health Organization’s director-generalship, Tedros seeks to take his efforts global. Ethiopia’s candidate has won the endorsement of the African Union’s executive council and is the only prospective leader from the continent.
In an interview with Devex, Tedros said his experience in Ethiopia has grounded his belief in building strong health systems as well as pushing for universal coverage. He promised to prioritize WHO’s role in global health, while also seeking input and consultation about how the organization can be reformed.
Tedros also points to his experience as a diplomat as a credential for his candidacy. The incoming DG will need to balance scientific priorities with the politics of members states and other donors. Tedros told Devex he will make the case for member states to increase their buy-in to WHO to a “controlling share” of at least 51 percent of the budget — up from 20 percent today.
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Season’s Greetings! As the year comes to a close, I would like to offer you an update on my campaign for Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). First I am grateful to the Government of Ethiopia for accepting my request to step down as Foreign Minister so that I may focus full-time on my campaign. Our Prime Minister continues to be incredibly supportive and has recently sent out letters to fellow Heads of States to reaffirm Ethiopia’s commitment to my candidacy and to seek their support.
My campaign team is growing and we are fortunate to have so many champions in different regions of the world who are working very hard on behalf of my campaign. My outreach continues to go really well. I have recently returned from visits in the Western Pacific, the Americas, and the Middle East. Between August and October I attended all regional committee meetings. All six of them. Out of 194 countries, I have met 183 bilaterally.
I am also grateful to the African Union for endorsing my candidacy back in January as the sole candidate from Africa. They have been so helpful in promoting my candidacy. Over the past month, I have met colleagues across the continent, and visited many countries in Africa. I am truly delighted by united support I am getting from my African brothers and sisters. I will continue to work hard to listen to Member States and promote my vision for WHO.
Wishing all my friends around the world a safe, happy, and healthy 2017.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
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