New WHO chief underscores importance of health as a rights issue

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-24 23:48:01|Editor: yan
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GENEVA, May 24 (Xinhua) -- Newly-elected World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom, highlighted on Wednesday the importance of treating health as an inalienable human right.

Referring to his year-long campaign, Tedros told the press that "what came out very clearly was people identifying health as a rights issue."

Tedros was chosen as WHO's next leader by delegates participating in the ongoing 70th World Health Assembly (WHA).

"What the world promised in 1948 is true today but still half of the population doesn't have access to health care," he added.

Tedros pledged to make universal health coverage the centerpiece of his five-year mandate, reminding that public health should be understood as a way to development.

The Ethiopian said that this entailed addressing financial barriers, promoting access to drugs as well as protracted regional discrepancies in the quality of care and diagnosis provided around the world.

He also called for the full implementation of WHO's health emergencies program and International Health Regulations (IHR).

On an organizational level, the 52-year-old said that he would do his best to ensure that all relevant stakeholders, including staff, governments and partners, are aligned in their vision and understanding of international health priorities.

He further indicated that he would put an end to any policy which hindered the full, unimpeded implementation of universal health coverage.

Tedros, who will take over from incumbent WHO head Margaret Chan on July 1, 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, New-born and Child Health.

Tedros 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 favor of the Ethiopian to Nabarro's 50.

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