The Executive Council of the African Union (AU) has, except for one vote from the Senegalese representation, endorsed the bid of Tedros Adhanom’s (PhD) to replace Margaret Chan as Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The foreign minister of Ethiopia, known within the international community for his contribution to the development of the country’s health sector during his tenure as Minister of Health (MoH) between 2005 and 2012, has yet to make an official statement on his interest in heading the global body.
Tedros’ attempt is the second recent attempt by an official of the incumbent Ethiopian government, after that of Sufian Ahmed, former minister of Finance & Economic Development (MoFED) and now advisor to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, to replace Donald Kaberuka (PhD) as President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) failed in 2015. Tedros’ effort, however, seems to have gained traction with the support from the continental body currently having its annual summit in Addis Abeba.
The existing Director-General of WHO, the Hong Kong Chinese and Canadian physician, Margaret Chan, is serving her second term, which will end on July 30, 2017.
It is said that Tedros’ bid, which is being made a year and a half before Chan’s term ends, has the full support of the government. Tedros has a PhD in Community Health, an MSc in Immunology of Infectious Diseases, and a BA in Biology. Traits the WHO Director-General ought to have include, a strong public health background, strong evidence of public health leadership, competency in organisational management, and sensitivity to cultural and political differences, according to the manual of the WHO.