Barely 72 hours after appointing President Robert Mugabe as the Goodwill Ambassador for Non-Communicable Diseases, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has cancelled the appointment. This comes after the appointment sparked a lot of debate and outrage, with some sections saying that Mugabe did not deserve the role as he had destroyed his own country’s public health system.
In a statement, WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said:
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.
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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 everyone has access to the healthcare 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.