News Analysis– Political vibes after Dr. Tedros’s victory

Posted on 24 May,2017


(Dire Tube News, Addis Ababa)— Ecstasy—emerged out of first Black’s victory to lead the UN Agency—WHO, and vexations over the protest against Dr. Tedros and the current regime in Ethiopia have been observed before and after Dr. Tedros was voted Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday.

Dr. Tedros — a malaria expert who campaigned under his first name — ultimately beat Dr. David Nabarro of Britain after three voting rounds. The final tally was 133 votes to 50, with three abstaining or not voting. Dr. Sania Nishtar, a Pakistani cardiologist and expert in noncommunicable diseases, was eliminated after receiving 38 votes in the first round.

The election was the first conducted by the WHO under more open and democratic rules, according to international media reports. After nearly two years of public campaigning, originally by six candidates, the voting took place in a closed-door session in which the health ministers of 186 countries cast their ballots in secret.

Of the U.N. health agency’s 194 member states, 185 were eligible to cast ballots. Nine others either were in arrears on their dues or not represented at the gathering.

Dr. Tedros, 52, replaces Dr. Margaret Chan of China, who has held the post for a decade. He sworn in to lead the UN health agency for the coming five years. Tedros is expected to receive over 200 thousand USD annual salary.

He is best known for having drastically cut deaths from malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis and neonatal problems when he was Ethiopia’s health minister. He trained 40,000 female health workers, hired outbreak investigators, improved the national laboratory, organized an ambulance system and oversaw a tenfold increase in medical school graduates, according to the government.

After the victory, the winner—Dr. Tedros, the former Minister of Health and Foreign Affairs, addressed the gathering in Geneva, Switzerland about his commitment saying that, “challenging times for global health” but added that “all roads lead to universal health coverage,” calling it his central priority. He said only about half of the world’s population has access to health care “without impoverishment”.

“This election has been unprecedented in that it brought transparency to the organization, and even greater legitimacy to the director-general,” Tedros said. “I will exercise this legitimacy to bring the change and reform we need for this noble organization to reclaim its trust from member states and from every citizen of the world.”

Ethiopian supporters were seen hugging him and high-fived each other after the announcement. Tedros, who prefers to go by his first name, will succeed Dr. Margaret Chan of China, who is ending her 10-year tenure on June 30.

The WHO Director-General wields considerable power in setting medical priorities that affect billions of people and declaring when disease outbreaks evolve into global emergencies.

The agency has stumbled in recent years, most notably in its error-prone response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. All three candidates had vowed to overhaul the agency to restore credibility.

After Tedros was voted, the Ethiopian government and the African Union (AU), among others, have welcomed the victory with a wide arm.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn hailed in a statement that the election of Dr. Tedros proved Ethiopia’s recognition in the global political-economy arena.

Tedros’s former ministry, Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also disclosed the victory as a success of Ethiopia’s diplomacy the international arena.

“It is a reward of Ethiopia’s positive and influential multilateral diplomacy and its participation in international forums,” Meles Alem, Spokeperson of Ministry of Foreign Affairs told 105.3 Afro FM radio station.

The African Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat also said in a statement that “the world has chosen a consummate global health statesman with a strong track record of embedding global public health and health security as a vital cornerstone of human development.”

The appointment of Dr. Tedros marks the first African to assume WHO’s top position in the organization’s 70 years history, the statement further added.

On the other side of the spectrum, Ethiopians were gathered in Geneva, Switzerland at the UN to protest against Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s WHO’s Director General position candidacy.

Even, to some diasporas, the “remarkable success” welcomed by Ethiopia’s government and the AU, especially, the former is a “case somewhat related to government’s maneuver to depict the supremacy of Tigrean ethnic background over others”.
For them, “Tedros’s candidacy is directly attached to his membership in the TPLF”.

Before one day of the voting, Tedros’ speech was interrupted by a diaspora who was in a hall, who later pushed out by security forces. Some reports claimed that, “the Briton competitor did that to harass the former Minister of Health and Foreign Affairs”.

Diaspora opposition forces and political activists, on the other hand have a different point of view on the issue.

“Dr. Tedros’s victory to become the next WHO leader is not a new and big deal at all,” they said. “There are notable Ethiopians who are leaders of international organizations,” they added.

They mentioned United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO’s) Deputy Director General Getachew Engida, Admassu Tadesse, President and CEO of the PTA Bank and Bekele Geleta, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as an evidence.

They went on to say that, “even the ruling party’s and some cadres mantra of Tedros’s victory is because he is from the Tigrean ethnic background is useless”.

Foreign based analysts like Ermias Legesse, the former State Minister of Government Communications Affairs Office during Meles Zenawi’s era, also attributed the opposition against candidate’s competition was due to “the human rights violation and mass killings of hundreds by government security forces on last year’s unrest”. “Therefore, the opposition was due to the opposition of the regime in Ethiopia,” he concluded.

Last but not least, here is a decisive question we should raise here: – Will the humble, dedicated and cheerful Dr. Tedros Adhanom be a successful African leader of the WHO akin to his speech after his victory?