Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Elected As WHO Director General

Associated Press: Ethiopia’s Tedros to be next leader of U.N. health agency
“Africa, where viruses such as HIV, Ebola, and Zika emerged, has its first chief of the U.N. health agency. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former Ethiopian minister of health, was elected Tuesday as the next director general of the World Health Organization, becoming the first non-medical doctor and the first African tapped to lead an influential agency that helps set health priorities worldwide…” (Keaten/Cheng, 5/24).

Devex: The next WHO director general is Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
“…The former minister of health of Ethiopia beat two other finalists in the race — the U.K.’s David Nabarro and Pakistan’s Sania Nishtar — with a final vote of 133 out of a possible 186, according to an unofficial tally leaked to the press. The WHO, as was the case during the elimination round in January, did not release the final breakdown of votes…” (Ravelo, 5/23).

Devex: A ‘new era’ for WHO as first African head elected — but challenges await
“…Tedros takes the helm of the United Nations health agency at a critical time, when its legitimacy is at stake. Despite winning by a wide margin, the former minister of health’s campaign for the leadership was also marked by concerns over human rights. There were many congratulations from organizations and individuals alike on the evening following the election…” (Ravelo/Saldinger, 5/24).

Financial Times: Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom to head World Health Organization
“…His appointment sends a strong signal of support for a leader from lower and middle-income countries and reflects an election race during which he emphasized his commitment to supporting ‘universal health coverage’ to expand free health care…” (Jack/Aglionby, 5/23).

Nature: World Health Organization gets first leader from Africa
“…Tedros, 52, is a public health expert who has formerly been both a health minister and a foreign minister in Ethiopia’s government, and will lead the WHO for a five-year term…” (Butler, 5/23).

New York Times: WHO Elects Ethiopia’s Tedros as First Director General From Africa
“…[Tedros] promised as the head of WHO 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…” (McNeil/Cumming-Bruce, 5/23).

NPR: World Health Organization Elects First Director General From Africa
“…During a campaign in which many people have been calling for more openness at WHO, Tedros was criticized for Ethiopia’s habit of downplaying domestic cholera outbreaks by labeling them ‘acute watery diarrhea.’ But Tedros promised that transparency will be at the heart of the WHO once he’s in charge…” (Beaubien, 5/23).

Quartz: WHO has elected a former Ethiopian health minister as its first African director general
“…Ghebreyesus will take over WHO amid even more controversy, over how its outgoing Director-General Margaret Chan and her team have handled budget spending…” (Adegoke, 5/23).

ScienceInsider: Former Ethiopian health minister becomes first African head of the World Health Organization
“…The organization was widely criticized for its late response to the West African Ebola outbreak and is in the midst of reforms, while many fear that the Trump administration will significantly cut funding for international health…” (Kupferschmidt, 5/23).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Expert Views — Challenges and priorities for WHO’s new director general Tedros
“…The Thomson Reuters Foundation asked global health experts and charity leaders what the new director general should prioritize…” (5/23).

TIME: World Health Organization Elects a New Director General from Ethiopia
“…In a speech before the election — part of a weeklong meeting of health ministers from 194 nations in Geneva — Tedros talked about growing up in Ethiopia, saying he comes from a background of ‘knowing survival cannot be taken for granted, and refusing to accept that people should die because they are poor’…” (Sifferlin, 5/23).

U.N. News Centre: Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom elected to top U.N. health post
“…[Tedros] also served as chair of the Global Fund and of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership Board (RBM), where he 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, according to the [WHO]…” (5/23).

Washington Post: WHO chooses first African to head the global health agency
“…The United States, [the WHO’s] largest donor, was represented by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. He congratulated Tedros and called on the WHO to reform and strengthen the organization and ‘enhance the ability of all nations to protect the health of their people.’ Even as he noted that ‘global health security begins at home,’ the Trump administration’s budget for 2018 calls for massive cuts in spending on U.S. scientific research, global health, disease prevention programs, and health insurance for children of the working poor…” (Sun, 5/23).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

KFF Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270 | Email Alerts: | |

The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.