WHO Chief Tedros Reappointed to Second Five-Year Term
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been reappointed to a second five-year term by the UN health agency's member countries.
No other candidate challenged Tedros for the post amid the ongoing difficulties of responding to the devastating coronavirus pandemic.
“This is overwhelming," Tedros said after another World Health Organization official asked everyone in the room to stand and applaud him.
Fighting back tears, Tedros 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".
Tedros, a former government minister from Ethiopia, has directed WHO throughout its management of the global response to Covid-19 and withstood occasionally withering criticism over its multiple missteps. 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. It also raised concerns about his leadership.
Under Tedros, the UN health agency failed to call out countries including China for blunders that WHO officials grumbled about privately, advised against mask-wearing for months, and said initially that the coronavirus wasn't likely to mutate rapidly.
Scientists drafted by WHO to investigate the coronavirus' origins in China said the critical probe was "stalled" last year, after issuing a report that even Tedros acknowledged had prematurely ruled out the possibility of a laboratory leak.
Tedros has frequently railed against rich countries for hoarding the world's limited supply of vaccines and insisted that pharmaceuticals aren't doing enough to make their medicines available to the poor.
Amid the near-universal focus on Ukraine after the Russian invasion, Tedros slammed the global community for not doing enough to solve crises elsewhere, including Yemen, Syria, and Afghanistan, arguing that it was possible because those suffering weren't white.
Still, critics say Tedros has failed on some fundamental issues, like holding staff accountable after allegations that dozens of outbreak workers managed by WHO sexually abused young women in Congo during an Ebola outbreak that began in 2018, in one of the biggest sex scandals in UN history.
None of the senior WHO managers alerted to the abuse allegations and who did little to stop the exploitation have been fired.