In May this year, the World Health Organization (WHO), the world’s premier international public health agency, will elect a new Director-General to lead the organization when Dr. Margaret Chan steps down in July. The importance of this role, cannot be underestimated. Pandemics, pollution, poverty and war all add to the complexity of preserving the health of the world’s almost 7 billion citizens.
A cool head, informed professionalism, and high-level organizational experience will be needed. While three candidates remain in the nominee field, Dr. Tedros Adhanom of Ethiopia – a champion for global health priorities both nationally and internationally – stands as the most experienced, visionary, and veteran `problem-solving’ leader to take on this most important public health position.
Why? Here are ten things you might not know about Dr. Tedros and his candidacy:
1. Over three decades, Dr. Tedros demonstrated a unique mix of political leadership and hands-on public health experience.
2. As Ethiopia’s Minister of Health he has greatly improved health outcomes in a country/region hardest hit by many of the world’s biggest health challenges; his comprehensive agenda of reform dramatically transformed the country’s health system.
3. Dr. Tedros increased access to health care with limited resources and community engagement, using primary health care as a platform; investing in critical infrastructure, expanding the health workforce and initiating pioneering financing mechanisms.
4. By overseeing the training/deployment of 38,000 health extension workers, (a `health development army’) his efforts created a community-based system with nearly 3 million women at its core; leading to a seven-fold increase in health professionals and a capacity increase of doctor training from 3 medical schools to 33 schools.
5. Under Dr. Tedros leadership, the Ministry of Health developed an integrated, household-based information management system which documents the health history of each family member; resulting in improvements in data collection, monitoring and evaluation.
6. Health insurance in Ethiopia now provides people in both the formal/informal sectors with full coverage of health services; leading Ethiopia to be the first country to sign a global compact with the `International Health Partnership’.
7. Dr. Tedros also helped establish the pooled MDG Health Fund, facilitating the allocation of ear-marked/disease-specific funding to address pressing health needs.
8. With the establishment of `Ethiopia’s Pharmaceutical Supply Fund Agency’, Dr. Tedros instituted transparent and accountable business processes, ensuring the availability of a reliable supply of affordable, quality-assured medicines.
9. Dr. Tedros showed impressive leadership and broad understanding of valuable partnerships/relationships as Board Chair, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB & Malaria; Board Chair, Roll Back Malaria Partnership; Board Co-Chair, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health; and Chair, UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board.
10. In being elected to lead the WHO, Dr. Tedros will make history as the first African to head the organization.
In a lifetime of service, Dr. Tedros Adhanom has used his proven political, diplomatic and negotiation skills to continue to build a healthier world for all people – a goal he will undoubtedly work towards when elected to be the next Director-General of the World Health Organization.
Dr. Tedros will be travelling in your part of the world soon and is available for phone and print interviews. For reference, the WHO election will take place on May 23rd in Geneva, Switzerland at the 70th session of the World Health Assembly.