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Wed May 24, 2017, 12:13 PM

W.H.O. Elects Ethiopia's Tedros as First Director General From Africa (champion for women)

W.H.O. Elects Ethiopia’s Tedros as First Director General From Africa

A woman waved a portrait of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the newly elected director general of the World Health Organization, in Geneva on Tuesday. Credit Valentin Flauraud/European Pressphoto Agency

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia was voted director general of the World Health Organization on Tuesday, the first African ever to head the agency. The election was the first conducted by the W.H.O. under more open and democratic rules. 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.

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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. He promised as the head of W.H.O. to pursue health insurance in even the poorest nations, strengthen emergency responses and make the agency more accountable and transparent.

He backs greater access to birth control and preventive care for women and is committed to having more gender and ethnic diversity in the agency. He also has promised to fight the health effects of climate change.

Dr. Nabarro, 67, has led the campaigns of various United Nations agencies against avian and swine flu, cholera, Ebola, malaria, hunger and other crises.

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Congratulations New Director-General!
We congratulate Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on being elected as the next Director-General of the World Health Organization. His appointment comes at a time when the world needs a fierce and proactive advocate for gender equality and the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women more than ever.

Dr. Tedros' track record of strengthening health systems and training community-based female health workers to expand reproductive and maternal health in Ethiopia, including family planning services, gives us hope that he will be the unwavering champion for girls and women the global development community wants and needs. Throughout the campaign, he pledged to make the health of women, children, and adolescents a focus of his tenure.

As Dr. Tedros and this community know all too well, actions speak louder than words. Starting with his first 100 days as Director-General, Dr. Tedros must start fulfilling the promises he made on the campaign trail, and then some.

The world’s most powerful health agency needs a leader who advocates for gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights as a net positive for all. He must consistently prioritize girls and women as powerful agents of change and drivers of development. Equally important, he must strengthen the WHO’s gender balance and engagement with young people and civil society not just because it's the right thing to do, but the sound thing to do.

"We at Women Deliver are excited to work closely with Dr. Tedros to prioritize girls and women, not just because they are disproportionately affected by global challenges, but because girls and women are powerful agents of change who lift up everyone around them," said Katja Iversen, President/CEO of Women Deliver. "Investments in the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women are not optional, but foundational to catalytic reform and progress for all."

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