(OPINION) A Qualified Candidate for Head of the W.H.O.

By Thomas R. Frieden

Dr Tedros Adhanom

To the Editor:

Re “Candidate to Lead W.H.O. Accused of Covering Up Cholera Outbreaks in Ethiopia” (news article, May 15):

Although not optimal, many countries report cholera to the World Health Organization as acute watery diarrhea, as Ethiopia has. This allows reporting and response without laboratory confirmation, but in no way indicates that Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former health minister of Ethiopia, is any less qualified to become director general of the W.H.O.

Multiple independent evaluations have confirmed that under Dr. Tedros’s leadership, Ethiopia is one of the few countries in Africa to have rapidly reduced infant mortality and achieved the Millennium Development Goal in this area.

Cholera can be a devastating disease, but rapid action saves lives and stops outbreaks. Dr. Tedros created a network of nearly 40,000 female community health workers who were trained, supported and supervised to implement programs, including oral rehydration therapy, that prevent death from diarrhea and other causes.

As director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I traveled to Ethiopia several times and saw impressive progress strengthening community health, improving hospital care and establishing disease-tracking systems.

The world would be safer and healthier if W.H.O. facilitates this type of progress in more countries.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: THOMAS R. FRIEDEN, ATLANTA — The writer, a physician specializing in infectious diseases and public health, was director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009–17.

You can read more about Dr. Tedros and his vision for a healthy world as #NextDG at #WHA70 on 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.