After Shunning Taiwan, World Health Organization Cozies Up to North Korea

Posted May 28, 2017

Fifty-two-year-old Tedros now resides in Ethiopia and was the country's minister of health and foreign affairs.

On Tuesday, May 23 and Wednesday, May 24, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. completed his participation in the 70 World Health Assembly by leading the US delegation in meetings with public health officials from Singapore, the WHO Africa Regional Office, Finland, Norway, the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office, and Brazil.

"This is a make or break time for the World Health Organization", the director of the Center for Humanitarian Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Paul Spiegel, said.

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Health officials from over 180 countries who met in Geneva on Tuesday elected a new director-general for the World Health Organization in the person of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus - the first leader of the agency hailing from Africa.

As Minister of Health, Ethiopia, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus led a comprehensive reform effort of the country's health system, including the expansion of the country's health infrastructure, creating 3,500 health centres and 16,000 health posts; expanded the health workforce by 38,000 health extension workers; and initiated financing mechanisms to expand health insurance coverage.

During the session, he noted that only half of people today now have access to health care without risking impoverishment.

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Dr Tedros becomes the first African to lead the World Health Organization and had unanimous backing from the African Union, which claimed that the continent deserved a shot to lead the agency.

Tedros added that WHO needs to "move fast" in addressing the budget issues, such as through increasing support from groups like the World Bank and the Global Fund. Tedros officially takes over July 1 from outgoing WHO director-general Dr. Margaret Chan, who is ending a 10-year tenure. Multi-government efforts are underway for newer vaccines, even as pro-health groups seek to keep the pharma industry away being able to push their agenda, and this is fine line the WHO will have to carefully tread. "WHO must play an integral part in preventing, detecting, responding to, and recovering from local health emergencies so that we reduce the potential of them becoming global health emergencies".

One of the major difficulties is that of money. "When there are finance cuts like this, the most affected are the poor". "I believe this will be taken into consideration", he said.

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"Congratulations to Dr. Tedros on your election as DG of WHO".