Ethiopia's Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus trounced UK's David Nabarro and was elected as the new head of the World Health Organization (WHO), becoming the first African to lead the United Nations health agency. His five-year term commences after Margaret Chan, a former Hong Kong health director, steps down on June 30.
Tedros takes the helm of the UN Agency at a time when Africa carries 25% of the world’s diseases, experiences almost half the world’s deaths of children under five, has a poor state of health systems and has a population whose energy, creativity and productivity is sapped due to ailments. The continent is dependent on multinational ‘investors’ for medical supplies and imports around 70% of its pharmaceutical needs from abroad.
As an African, it is hoped that he will marshall the international body to give more attention to health issues in Africa. It is hoped that he will galvanise Africa to internally finance healthcare, spur vigorous healthcare research, make healthcare affordable and create an ecosystem that will give rise to the local manufacture of drugs.