Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, plans to run for a second five-year term as head of the agency, Stat News reported on Monday, quoting a person familiar with the matter.
Tedros, as he is widely known, has been the public face of WHO efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic since the new SARS-CoV-2 virus appeared in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. .
In 2017, Tedros of Ethiopia became the first African to head the Geneva-based United Nations agency and made universal health care coverage his priority.
A WHO spokesman said he could not comment on potential nominees. The 194 WHO member states can nominate candidates by September, whose names will be sent in sealed envelopes to the chairman of the Governing Board – before next year’s elections.
It is unclear at this point whether others will come out to challenge Tedros for the five-year term, the Stat report said.
Diplomats told Reuters that Tedro’s support among African nations would be crucial to any re-election, while suspecting he could count on support from his home country which nominated him last time.
They noted that the Ethiopian military accused him in November of backing up and trying to obtain weapons and diplomatic support for the state’s dominant political party Tigray, which is fighting federal forces. Tedros has denied taking sides in the conflict in Ethiopia.
Tedros, whose global profile has grown dramatically during the pandemic, flew to Beijing in January 2020 for talks with President Xi Jinping to ensure cooperation and information sharing, shortly before declaring a worldwide health emergency.
The Trump administration accused Tedros and the WHO of being “at the center of China” – the allegations they denied – and halted U.S. contributions as it began the process of leaving the agency. The Biden administration announced shortly after taking office in January that it would remain a member and meet its financial obligations while working on reforms. Read more
Tedros distanced himself from the findings of a WHO-led mission this year, written alongside Chinese scientists investigating the origin of the virus. The report released on March 30 said the virus had been transmitted from bats to humans through another animal and that a laboratory leak was “extremely impossible” as a cause.
Tedros said the records were kept by the team and that the lab issue required further investigation. Read more
Our standards: Principles of Trust of Thomson Reuters.
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