Tedros re-elected head of the World Health Organization

GENEVA (Reuters) – Members of the World Health Organization have re-elected Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as director-general by a large majority for another five years, the president of the World Health Assembly said on Tuesday.

The vote by secret ballot, announced by Ahmed Robleh Abdallah of Djibouti at a major annual meeting, was considered a formality because Tedros was the only candidate to run.

Ministers and delegates took turns shaking hands and hugging Tedros, a former health minister from Ethiopia, who led the United Nations agency during a turbulent period dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The president had to use the hammer several times to interrupt the applause.

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Speaking to the assembly shortly after his re-election, Tedros said the WHO’s focus will be on emergency preparedness and agency improvement.

“This pandemic has been so unprecedented and so many lessons to learn and learn. But, at the same time, we can’t stop, learn, and do… Instead of pausing to learn, we say while learning, let’s do.”

The newly re-elected head of the World Health Organization is torn as he talks about the current crisis in Ukraine and the death of his younger brother from childhood illness amid decades of war and poverty.

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“When I visited Ukraine when I saw children in particular.. it was the image that came into my mind over 50 years ago, it was so visual, so haunted. The smell, the sound, the image of war. That’s what I don’t ‘I don’t want to happen to anyone.’”

Many countries, including Germany and the United States, were quick to offer congratulations.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach wrote on Twitter that Tedros received 155 votes out of 160, calling it an amazing result. “Congratulations well deserved.”

Germany recently overtook the United States as the largest donor to the United Nations health agency.

However, Tedros’ candidacy for a second term was not supported by his native Ethiopia due to the controversy over the Tigray dispute. Ethiopia’s envoy to the assembly clarified that Botswana’s statement congratulating Tedros does not represent all 47 African countries.

“The established method of work of the African Group is to work by consensus. I would like to point out that there has been no consensus. The distinguished representative of Botswana cannot, therefore, deliver the statement on behalf of the African Group.”

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(Reporting by Jennifer Rigby, Emma Farge and Mrinalika Roy) Additional reporting by Paul Carell. Editing by Catherine Evans

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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