First African to lead WHO, re-elected for five more years

Dr Ghebreyesus has spearheaded the global response to the coronavirus pandemic

World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivers a speech on the opening day of 75th World Health Assembly of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva on May 22, 2022. (Photo by JEAN-GUY PYTHON/AFP via Getty Images)

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will be at helm of World Health Organisation (WHO) for five more years following an unopposed election held during the 75th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

Dr Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian made history five years ago by being named as the first African to head the world’s leading public health agency. In his acceptance speech, he vowed to continue collaborating with Member States to keep the world safe.

“This honour, though, comes with great responsibility and I am committed to working with all countries, my colleagues around the world, and our valued partners, to ensure WHO delivers on its mission to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable,” said Dr Ghebreyesus.

The vote was the culmination of an election process that began in April 2021 when Member States were invited to submit proposals for candidates for the post of Director-General.

Kenya in September 2021 was the first African nation to back Dr Ghebreyesus’ bid for a second term. Kenya through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it would back the malaria specialist just hours after nominations had been closed.

“Kenya supports continuity of exemplary African leadership at the helm of crucial global world health organization, and will work towards that realization,” Macharia Kamau, principal secretary at the foreign ministry, said on Twitter.

Dr Ghebreyesus' new mandate officially commences on August 16 2022. A Director-General can only be re-appointed once, in accordance with World Health Assembly rules and procedures.

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