The WHO has Tuesday elected elected Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian, as its new Director-General. He will succeed Dr Margaret Chan, who has been WHO’s Director-General since 1 January 2007.
Prior to his election as WHO’s next Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ethiopia from 2012-2016 and as Minister of Health, Ethiopia from 2005-2012.
He has also served as chair of the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; as chair of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership Board, and as co-chair of the Board of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.
As Minister of Health, Ethiopia, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus led a comprehensive reform effort of the country’s health system, including the expansion of the country’s health infrastructure, creating 3,500 health centres and 16,000 health posts; expanded the health workforce by 38,000 health extension workers; and initiated financing mechanisms to expand health insurance coverage.
As Minister of Foreign Affairs, he led the effort to negotiate the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, in which 193 countries committed to the financing necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
As Chair of the Global Fund and of RBM, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus secured record funding for the two organizations and created the Global Malaria Action Plan, which expanded RBM’s reach beyond Africa to Asia and Latin America.
Welcoming the election of Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance said Dr Tedros’s work with Gavi as Ethiopia’s Health Minister helped boost the proportion of children reached by vaccines from less than half to more than two-thirds, preventing the deaths of thousands of children.
“Moreover his initiative to scale up the number of community health workers helped ensure vaccines, as well as other health interventions, made it to the hardest to reach communities. These innovative approaches made a tremendous difference in the lives of the poorest,” said Dr Seth.
Dr Tedros served as a member of Gavi’s Board in 2008-09.