"WHO to Africans" An Endorsement
An Endorsement by Marwane Ben Yahmed, Editor of Jeune Afrique Magazine of Dr. Tedros Adhanom For `World Health Organization' Director-General
By: Dr. Tedros For World Health Organization DG
They were six contenders on the starting line: Pakistani Sania Nishtar, Italian Flavia Bustreo, Frenchman Philippe Douste-Blazy, British David Nabarro, Hungary's Miklós Szócska, and Ethiopian Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
At the end of January, after a particularly long session, the WHO Executive Committee selected the final three finalists, Nabarro (18 votes), Nishtar (28 votes) and Adhanom (30 votes). We met and interviewed him in October 2016, then in late March.
For many reasons, it seems to us to be that he is the man for the position - given his experience - including Minister of Health and Foreign Affairs of his country, and as Board Chair of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. He also has a Ph.D. in Community Health and a Master of Science in Immunology and Infectious Diseases. The multitude of remarkable public health work he has accomplished is broad.
If the organization is above all what its Member States want it to be, today it has a vital need to reform itself. It therefore requires a leader who will be able to combine firmness, diplomacy and strength of conviction to transform it in depth and to shake the weight.
An indispensable organization for the development of health standards and recommendations, WHO suffers from its stifling bureaucracy and too little responsiveness. It took an endless amount of time to respond to the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa in 2014, which killed more than 11,000 people. And it struggled to raise the funds needed to fight the Zika virus.
This funding gap - its budget is only $ 4.5 billion for 2016 and 2017, of which 80% comes from voluntary contributions and half from the United States, the United Kingdom and the Gates Foundation alone - is recurrent, and prevents it from putting in place the necessary emergency measures in the event of pandemics, such as health system development programs, which the neediest countries need.
Finally, it will also have to deal with the issue of its global governance, which is at least erratic, since the Geneva headquarters is supposed to centralize and coordinate the action of the six regional offices.
All of these challenges and unavoidable emergencies to deal with, which, while not denying the qualities of his competitors, seems to be within the reach of a man who has had to manage in his own country some of the most pressing health problems with limited resources when he held the Health Ministry chair between 2005 and 2012. This man is Dr. Tedros Adhanom, of Ethiopia.
You can read more about Dr. Tedros and his vision for a healthy world as #NextWHODG at his website: http://www.drtedros.com/
*This piece originally appeared in French on Jeune Afrique's website, April 4, HERE: bit.ly/2nmvjJT