It has been a delightful moment for Dr. Tedros Adhanom, the first African to be a Director -General of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the 70 years history of the UN Agency when he arrived at Bole International Airport on Saturday, May 27 morning, he warmly welcomed by government dignitaries, diplomats, friends and members of the media.
After the red carpet welcome, many congratulated him on his remarkable success and later accompanied by a cake cutting ceremony.
Tedros won the race to become a Director General of the WHO with 133 votes.
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.”
Tedros also spoke about the need for universal access to health care, a better response to health emergencies and the need to tackle gender-based violence, as well as threats to global health like climate change, the migrant crisis and terrorism.
The two other candidates were Britain’s Dr. David Nabarro, a health official who has lead the United Nations response to a variety of health problems, including the 2014 Ebola outbreak, and Dr. Sania Nishtar, the first female cardiologist in Pakistan.
Tedros is a former health and foreign affairs minister of Ethiopia. As a foreign affairs minister Tedros focused on accelerating Africa’s economic, political and social development.
According to his director-general application, as health minister, he oversaw the creation of 3,500 health centers and 16,000 health posts, which contributed to considerably cutting child mortality rates, HIV infections, malaria deaths and deaths from tuberculosis.
He is the first African to head up the UN agency, after winning the most votes from 186 member states.
Tedros replaces Margaret Chan, who will step down from her 10-year post at the end of June.