India likely to vote for Ethiopian candidate in WHO Director General elections

By Vidya Krishnan for The Hindu

India likely to vote in favour of Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in the upcoming election of the next Director General of global public health body World Health Organization.

The crucial election will decide the fate of the public health body which has suffered after gross mishandling of the Ebola outbreak, where WHO was too slow and ineffective to respond the outbreak, leading to 11,000 preventable deaths.

After closed door sessions at the WHO Executive Board meeting in January, WHO released names of three director-general nominees: Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Pakistan’s Sania Nishtar, and Britain’s David Nabarro.

Dr. Ghebreyesus is the former foreign affairs and health minister, Ethiopia. David Nabarro, was the special advisor to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on sustainable development, United Kingdom and third candidate Dr. Nishtar is the former health minister of Pakistan.

The WHO DG election is an important geo-political race as it comes at a time when there is concern over slashing of global aid and multilateral funding. According to a article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the Ebola epidemic brought ‘unprecedented attention’ to the WHO and its deficiencies- and the “fundamental challenges in terms of structure, governance and prioritisation of political considerations”.

“India has been in support of the Ethiopian candidate for a while. It helps that Dr. Tedros has been coming toIndia and has a good relationship with Indian counterparts,” said a source in the health ministry on the condition of anonymity. This has been confirmed by a second source.

While the Pakistani candidate is most suitable in terms of her understanding of the health challenges in the sub-continent, tensions along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan has made it unlikely that India will vote for Dr Nashtar.

The WHO DG is selected by a secret, one-country one-vote system. This will be the first time the election of WHO DG will be open to all 194 member states instead of just the executive board. The contest is being closely followed by the global public health community has Margaret Chan’s successor will face tough challenges to maintain WHO’s leadership with shrinking funds and political commitment.

At the Seventieth World Health Assembly, Member States will vote in a new Director-General, who will take office on 1 July 2017.

You can read more about Dr. Tedros and his vision for a healthy world as #NextDG at his website: http://www.drtedros.com/ — and follow along with his campaign on social media at Facebook.com/DrTedros.Official and on Twitter at @DrTedros. Sign up for the campaign’s newsletter `From the Desk of Dr. Tedros’ at http://bit.ly/2nGWtLm.

*This article originally appeared in The Hindu on April 13, HERE: http://bit.ly/2obYqLA