Tedros re-elected head of the World Health Organization

GENEVA, May 24 (Reuters) – Members of the World Health Organization (WHO) have re-elected Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as director-general by a large majority for another five years, the president of the World Assembly announced on Tuesday. of health.

The vote by secret ballot, announced by Djibouti’s Ahmed Robleh Abdilleh at a major annual meeting, was seen as a formality since Tedros was the only candidate in the running.

Ministers and delegates took turns shaking hands and kissing Tedros, a former health minister from Ethiopia, who led the UN agency through a turbulent period dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic . The president had to use several hammer blows to interrupt the applause.

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Addressing the assembly shortly after his re-election, Tedros said the WHO would focus on emergency preparedness and improving the agency.

“This pandemic has been unprecedented and many lessons we should and are learning. But, at the same time, we cannot just pause, learn and implement… instead of pausing to learn , we say while learning, implement .”

The newly re-elected WHO chief wept as he spoke of the current crisis in Ukraine and the death of his younger brother from a childhood illness amid war and poverty decades ago.

“When I visited Ukraine, when I saw especially the children… It was the image of more than 50 years ago that came to mind, so visible, so haunting. The smell, sound and sight of war. That’s what I don’t want to happen to anyone.”

Several countries, including Germany and the United States, were quick to offer their congratulations.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach tweeted that Tedros got 155 out of 160 votes, calling it a spectacular result. “Congratulations, fully deserved.”

Germany recently overtook the United States as the top donor to the United Nations health agency.

However, Tedros’s bid for the second term did not receive support from his native Ethiopia due to friction over the Tigray conflict. The Ethiopian envoy to the assembly clarified that Botswana’s statement congratulating Tedros did not represent the 47 countries in the African group.

“The established method of work of the African Group is to work by consensus. I would like to stress that there was no consensus. Therefore, the distinguished representative of Botswana cannot deliver the statement on behalf of the African Group. “

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Reporting by Jennifer Rigby, Emma Farge and Mrinalika Roy; Additional reporting by Paul Carrel; Editing by Catherine Evans

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