Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus set to stay on as WHO Chief

World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a press conference, Fabrice COFFRINI / Getty Images
The World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. /Getty Images

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) since 2017, is the sole candidate to lead the World Health Organization once his current term expires, the WHO announced Friday.

In his application letter, the Ethiopian former health and foreign minister said COVID-19 had “ravaged the world” and in a second term, he wanted to make sure the planet was “truly ready” to deal with another such crisis.

His current five-year mandate runs out in August.

“A single candidate was proposed by member states by the September 23, 2021 deadline: Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,” the WHO said in a statement.

Tedros was nominated by 28 countries, the UN health agency said.

17 European Union members gave him their backing, including Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

Tedros, 56, graduated with a biology degree in his homeland before completing a masters in immunology of infectious diseases and a doctorate in community health in Britain.

He worked as a field-level malariologist in Ethiopia before leading a regional health bureau and then joining the government, working his way up the ministerial ranks.

In 2017, Tedros became the first African candidate to head the powerful UN agency. His general bonhomie stands in marked contrast to the frostiness of his predecessor Margaret Chan.

He has been the public face of the WHO since the Covid-19 crisis began, and is relatively popular due to his role in steering the organisation’s efforts to coordinate the pandemic response.

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