The World Health Organization’s (WHO) members re-elected Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as Director-General by a strong majority for another five years.
His re-election was confirmed during the 75th World Health Assembly in Geneva. He was the sole candidate. In his speech after the secret ballot, Tedros said:
I am humbled by the opportunity provided by Member States to serve a second term as WHO Director-General. This honour, though, comes with great responsibility and I am committed to working with all countries, my colleagues around the world, and our valued partners, to ensure WHO delivers on its mission to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.
Tedros, a former health minister from Ethiopia, has steered the UN agency through a turbulent period dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing the assembly soon after his re-election, Tedros said the WHO’s focus will be on emergency preparedness and the improvement of the agency. He said:
This pandemic has been very unprecedented and many lessons that we should learn and we are learning. But, at the same time we cannot just pause, learn and implement…instead of pausing to learn, we’re saying while learning let’s implement…
When I visited Ukraine when I saw especially the kids..It was the image from more than 50 years ago that came to my mind, so visible, so hounding. The smell, sound and image of war. That is what I don’t want to happen to anyone.
Several countries including Germany and the United States were quick to offer their congratulations.
However, Tedros’ second-term candidacy did not receive the support of his native Ethiopia due to friction over the Tigray conflict. Ethiopia’s envoy to the assembly made it clear that Botswana’s statement congratulating Tedros did not represent all 47 countries of the African group.
The established working method of the African group is to work by consensus. I would like to point out that there was no consensus. Hence, the distinguished representative of Botswana cannot deliver the statement on behalf of the African group.
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach tweeted that Tedros got 155 of 160 votes, calling it a spectacular result.