Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was reappointed for his second five-year term as the director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday.
“Today at #WHA75 (the World Health Assembly Member) States re-elected @DrTedros to serve a second five-year term as Director-General of the WHO. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s new mandate officially commences on 16 August 2022,” the WHO tweeted.
He was elected unanimously amid the ongoing difficulties of responding to the devastating coronavirus pandemic.
“This is overwhelming,” Tedros said, after another World Health Organisation official asked everyone in the room to stand and applaud him.
He described himself as “a child of war” after signing the contract for his extension. He said that after witnessing his younger brother’s death at an early age, it was “luck (that) brought me all the way here.”
“Humbled and honoured to be elected to serve a 2nd term as @WHO Director-General. I’m deeply grateful for the trust and confidence of Member States. I thank all #healthworkers & my @WHO colleagues around the world. I look forward to continuing our journey together,” he tweeted later.
Tedros is a former government minister from Ethiopia.
His first term in office was turbulent, as he grappled not only with the global response to the pandemic but also a long line of other crises, including a sexual abuse scandal involving WHO staff in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He is the first African to lead the agency and the only director-general not qualified as a medical doctor.
He is also the first WHO leader not to be supported by their home country; Ethiopia has previously accused Tedros of “ misconduct ” after his sharp criticism of the war and humanitarian crisis there and raised concerns about his leadership on Tuesday.
While Tedros has faced his share of criticism, he has received broad backing.
African nations especially have been pleased at the attention paid to the continent and at his relentless campaign for poorer nations to receive a fair share of Covid vaccines.
Since US President Joe Biden’s arrival in the White House, Tedros has also enjoyed support in Washington.