The director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has rescinded his appointment of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe as “Goodwill Ambassador” for non-communicable diseases.
This comes after he was criticised for the appointment by several organisations, including the British government.
The choice of Mugabe was criticised over accusation of the president’s disregard for human rights as well as the deplorable state of the country’s healthcare system – health workers going without pay and medicines in short supply.
Ghebreyesus, in appointing Mugabe, said Zimbabwe was a country that “places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide health care to all”.
Following the criticism, Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian, has revoked the appointment saying it is “in the best interests of” the WHO, having “listened carefully to all who have expressed their concerns.”
See statement below:
Over the last few days, I have reflected on my appointment of H.E. President Robert Mugabe as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for NCDs in Africa. As a result I have decided to rescind the appointment.
I have listened carefully to all who have expressed their concerns, and heard the different issues that they have raised. I have also consulted with the Government of Zimbabwe and we have concluded that this decision is in the best interests of the World Health Organization.
It is my aim to build a worldwide movement for global health. This movement must work for everyone and include everyone.
For me, what is important is to build political leadership and create unity around bringing health to all, based on WHO’s core values.
I remain firmly committed to working with all countries and their leaders to ensure that every one has access to the health care they need.
We must build bridges that bring us together and help us move forward in our quest to achieve universal health coverage.
I thank everyone who has voiced their concerns and shared their thoughts. I depend on constructive debate to help and inform the work I have been elected to do.