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WHO’s newly Elected Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stresses on Health as Human Right

Tedros promised to strengthen the frontlines of health, transform the World Health Organization into a world class force and lastly “place accountability, transparency and continuous improvement at the heart of WHOs culture.”

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WHO Director General Tedros stresses the need for bolder action to fight non-communicable diseases,VOA
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Geneva, May 25, 2017: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s newly elected director-general, says health as a human right is at the core of his vision for the organization he soon will lead.

The former Ethiopian health and foreign minister is the first African chosen to head the organization, which was created 69 years ago.

After a long, bruising campaign that began in 2015, Tedros beat out two other contenders, David Nabarro of Britain and Pakistani physician Sania Nishtar, for the post by winning 133 of the votes cast by 185 WHO member states.

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“The outcome of the voting was very, very clear,” said Tedros. “Having confidence from the majority of member states gives me legitimacy to really implement the vision that I have already outlined.”

Tedros’ goals

That vision included five promises, which Tedros made to the World Health Assembly during a final campaign pitch preceding Tuesday’s secret ballot vote.

He said that he would “work tirelessly” to fulfill the WHO promise of universal coverage and would ensure “a robust response for emergencies to come.”

He promised to strengthen the frontlines of health, transform the World Health Organization into a world-class force and lastly “place accountability, transparency and continuous improvement at the heart of WHOs culture.”

At a news conference in Geneva, he said the concept of health as a human right would be at the heart of whatever he did.

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FILE - A health official administers a polio vaccine to children at a camp for people displaced by Islamist Extremist in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Aug. 28, 2016. New WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says universal health coverage "should be the center of gravity of our movement."
FILE – A health official administers a polio vaccine to children at a camp for people displaced by Islamist Extremist in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Aug. 28, 2016. New WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says universal health coverage “should be the center of gravity of our movement.” VOA

“Half of our population does not have access to health care,” he said. That, he said, could and should be remedied through universal health care coverage, which would address the issue of health as a human right and act as a spur to development.

“All roads should lead to universal health coverage and it should be the center of gravity of our movement,” he said.

Tedros begins his five-year term as director-general on July 1, succeeding Margaret Chan, who has headed the WHO for the past 10 years.

The newly elected director general said he wants to reform and transform the World Health Organization into a better, more responsive agency.

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As Ethiopia’s minister of health, Tedros led a comprehensive reform of the country’s health system, including the expansion of the country’s health infrastructure and health insurance coverage.

Resources a constant priority

As WHO leader, Tedros said one of his first orders of business would be to strengthen the organization’s ability to respond swiftly and effectively to emergencies because “epidemics can strike at any time” and the WHO must be prepared.

“The campaign has ended, as you know, officially, but I think the work begins actually now. I know it is very difficult. It is going to be tough,” he said.

One of the major difficulties is that of money. Reform, tackling emerging and ancient diseases take a lot of money, something the World Health Organization, which reportedly is struggling to close a $2.2 billion gap, does not have.

FILE - A woman stands near a poster explaining the Zika virus at the Ministry of Health office in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sept. 2, 2016. New WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says that among his priorities will be to strengthen the WHO's ability to respond swiftly and effectively to health emergencies.
FILE – A woman stands near a poster explaining the Zika virus at the Ministry of Health office in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sept. 2, 2016. New WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says that among his priorities will be to strengthen the WHO’s ability to respond swiftly and effectively to health emergencies. VOA

 

The problem is likely to be made even worse given the Trump administration announced budget cuts to global health programs, including a 32 percent cut to USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) and between 20 percent and 30 percent cuts for scientific research institutes.

The United States is the biggest WHO donor. U.S. President Donald Trump has suggested funding cuts to the organization might be in the offing.

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Tedros observed that it is the poor that are the most affected by big financial cuts.

“I hope this will be understood before finalizing the proposal. I believe this will be taken into consideration,” he said.

He can take heart in that a congratulatory statement on his election from Tim Price, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary did not threaten any funding cuts. Instead, he told Tedros the United States looked forward to working with him on changing the World Health Organization for the better.

“The United States is committed to helping advance reforms and cultivating greater global health security,” he said. (VOA)

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Next Story

WHO launches a new global effort to end TB by 2030

The announcement was made in the Global Ministerial Conference in Moscow.

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WHO will start working towards ending Tuberculosis
Dr. Simon Angelo (L) examines Iman Steven suffering from tuberculosis, held by her mother (R) at the hospital of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), June 15, 2016, at the Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Malakal, South Sudan. VOA

Delegates from 114 countries have agreed to take urgent action to end tuberculosis (TB) by 2030, the WHO said.

The announcement on Friday came as the delegates gathered in Moscow for the first WHO global ministerial conference on ending tuberculosis, Xinhua news agency reported.

The delegates promised to achieve strengthen health systems and improve access to the people regarding TB prevention and care so that no one is left behind.

They also agreed to mobilize sufficient and sustainable financing through increased domestic and international investments to close gaps in implementation and research.

Resources are expected to advance research and development of new tools to diagnose, treat and prevent TB, and to build accountability through a framework to track and review progress on ending TB.

“Today marks a critical landmark in the fight to end TB,” said World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“It signals a long overdue global commitment to stop the death and suffering caused by this ancient killer.”

Though global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 53 million lives since 2000 and reduced the TB mortality rate by 37 per cent, progress in many countries has stalled, global targets are off-track and persistent gaps remain in TB care and prevention, according to the WHO.

As a result, TB still kills more people than any other infectious disease. Due to its antimicrobial resistance, TB is also the leading killer of people with HIV.

Representatives at the meeting, which was attended by over 1,000 participants, also promised to minimize the risk and spread of drug resistance and do more to engage people and communities affected by or at risk of TB. (IANS)