Universal health coverage to form backbone of new WHO chief's agenda

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-24 03:59:48|Editor: yan
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GENEVA, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Tedros Adhanom, 52-year-old former health minister and foreign minister of Ethiopia, was elected on Tuesday as new Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), UN's health agency.

Adhanom, elected at the ongoing 70th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, will succeed outgoing Margaret Chan, who has been the WHO's director-general since January, 2007.

Adhanom served as Ethiopia's foreign minister from 2012 to 2016, and minister of health from 2005 to 2012

He has also chaired the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership Board, and co-chaired the Board of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.

Adhanom will begin his five-year term on July 1.

In the appointment ceremony, Adhanom reminded that universal health coverage will guide his and WHO's efforts to fight the many health scourges that continue to plague the world.

"All roads lead to universal health coverage. This will be my central priority. At present only about half of the world's people have access to healthcare without impoverishment," he said.

"This needs to improve dramatically. The Sustainable Development Goals give WHO an opportunity to dramatically access to healthcare," he added.

While acknowledging that these are challenging times for global health, Adhanom pledged not only to serve to the best of his abilities the people of the world, but also to listen to what they say before offering advice.

"I will never forget the people we serve, because all we do is for the people we serve,"Adhanom highlighted, adding that he will strive to improve the lives of the world's most vulnerable populations.

"I believe in us making a difference through partnership and collaboration, anything is possible. Let's get to work, together for a healthier world," he concluded.

Adhanom beat Britain's David Nabarro and Pakistan's Sania Nishtar after three successive rounds of voting.

In the final ballot, where a simple majority is required to select a winner from the two remaining candidates, delegates cast 133 votes in favour of the Ethiopian to Nabarro's 50.

This is the first time an African is appointed as WHO director-general.