The Executive Council of the African Union on Friday (January 29) endorsed the candidature of Dr. Tedros Adhanom for the post of the Director General of the World Health Organization. His candidature is expected to be endorsed by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government at the weekend. The election is scheduled for May 2017 during the 70th session of the WHO Assembly.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus took up his post as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in November 2012. Prior to that, he served as Ethiopia’s Minister of Health from October 2005. Dr. Tedros also served in a number of expert and leadership positions in both federal and regional government, including the position of State Minister in the Ministry of Health and Head of the Tigray Regional Health Bureau.
After joining the health sector in 1986, Dr. Tedros dedicated his career to public service and scientific research on health concerns. A globally recognized researcher on Malaria, Dr. Tedros has co-authored numerous articles on the subject in scientific publications, including Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology, The Lancet, and Nature and Parasitologia. He published a study of malarial incidence among children living near dams in northern Ethiopia, a key contribution to the field, in the British Medical Journal in 1999. This seminal contribution earned him the distinction of the ‘Young Investigator of the Year’ award from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. In 2003, the Ethiopian Public Health Association (EPHA) recognized his important research work through its prestigious “Young Public Health Researcher Award”. Dr. Tedros was also the first non-American recipient of the “Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Humanitarian Award”, in 2011. This is an award conferred by the US National Foundation of Infectious Diseases to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to improving the health of mankind. In March 2012, he received the 2012 Honorary Fellowship from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. This is the highest honour bestowed by the School and goes to those who have achieved exceptional distinction in international health or tropical medicine.
In addition to his specific work on disease and malaria in particular, Dr. Tedros has also been recognized for his leadership in the rapidly evolving field of global health, working to enhance Ethiopia’s active engagement in a number of major international forums. In May, 2009, he was elected to represent Ethiopia as the Chair of the Fourth Conference of Ministers of Health of the African Union. In July, 2009, he was elected Chair of the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, for a period of two years. Previously, he served as Chair of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, as Chair of the UNAIDS Programme Coordination Board for 2009, and as Co-Chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health from 2005 until December, 2009. He has also served as a member of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization Board as well as of the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation. In 2009, he was also a member of the High-Level Task Force for Innovative Financing for Health Systems, co-chaired by World Bank President, Robert Zoellick, and UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. Dr. Tedros co-edited “The Labor Market for Health Workers in Africa: A New Look at the Crisis” in 2014. This widely acclaimed book challenges established views on migration of doctors from Africa.
In his career as Health Minister, Dr. Tedros oversaw the rapid expansion of primary health care in Ethiopia. It was as a result of this that Ethiopia was able to meet most of health-related Millennium Development Goals. In recognition of his extraordinary achievements in expanding preventive health care in Ethiopia, the UK-based Wired Magazine included him in its annual ‘Smart List 2012’ of the 50 “people who will change the world.”
Since taking up the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Tedros has also served as chair of IGAD’S Council of Ministers, the regional economic community for Horn of Africa. As chair of the Executive Council of the African Union in 2014, he oversaw the successful adoption of the first 10 year plan for the AU’s Agenda 2063. Under his leadership, Ethiopia successfully hosted the 50th anniversary conference of the OAU/AU. During his chairmanship of the Executive Council of the African Union, he also chaired a ministerial contact group that voiced the concerns of Africa over the International Criminal Court and worked for the deferral of the ICC cases against President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto in 2014. Astute diplomacy led to withdrawal of President Kenyata’s case and procedural amendments to the Rome Statute. In September 2015, Dr. Tedros was elected again as the chair of the Open-ended Ministerial Committee on the ICC, to follow up on the cases of President Al-Bashir of Sudan and Deputy President Ruto of Kenya. Equally, as co-chair of the main committee of the Third Finance for Development (FFD3), he played a key role in by bringing together polarized positions on the future of the global development finance architecture. The FFD3 ended with the adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
As Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros played the leading role in brokering the Addis Ababa Agreement between the Federal Government of Somalia and Jubaland politicians which led to the formation of the Interim Jubaland Administration, providing for the return of normalcy in Kismayo and its environs. The successful implementation of the Addis Ababa Agreement has turned it into a model for regional state formation in Somalia. Dr Tedros has been the leading diplomat in the successful negotiations between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over Ethiopia's Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, leading to the signing, last year, of the Declaration of Principles that helped ease tension and pave the way for dialogue. In April 2014, he authored an article titled “The Nile is Symbol of Cooperation and Collaboration” in which he made the case for the importance of cooperation for the mutual and equitable benefit of the Nile Riparian States from the river. Recently, honoring his efforts as Ethiopia’s top diplomat, the leading African magazine, New African, chose him as one of the 100 most influential Africans for the year 2015.
Dr. Tedros holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Community Health from the University of Nottingham in the UK in 2000. He obtained a Master of Science degree in Immunology of Infectious Diseases from the University of London (UK) in 1992, and completed his undergraduate studies in Biology at Asmara University in 1986. Dr Tedros is married and has four sons and a daughter.