Members of the World Health Organization have overwhelmingly re-elected Tedras Adhanom Gebreyes as CEO for another five years, said the president of the World Health Assembly.
The secret ballot announced by Ahmed Roble Abdullah of Djibouti at a major annual meeting was seen as a formality, as Tedras was the only candidate.
Ministers and delegates took turns shaking hands and embracing Tedros, a former Ethiopian health minister who ran the United Nations agency during a turbulent period dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The president had to interrupt the applause with a hammer several times.
Speaking to the assembly shortly after his re-election, Tedras said the focus of the WHO would be on preparing for emergencies and improving the agency’s work.
“This pandemic has been very unprecedented and there are many lessons we need to learn and learn. But at the same time we can’t just stop, learn and implement … instead of stopping to learn, we say while learning, let’s we are implementing it ”.
The recently re-elected head of the WHO burst into tears as he spoke about the current crisis in Ukraine and the death of his younger brother from childhood illness amid war and poverty decades ago.
“When I visited Ukraine, I saw especially children … It was an image of more than 50 years ago that came to my mind, so visible, so exciting. The smell, sound and image of war. This is something I don’t feel. I don’t want to happen to anyone. “
Several countries, including Germany and the United States, were quick to congratulate.
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach tweeted that Tedras received 155 votes out of 160, calling it an impressive result.
“Congratulations, well deserved.”
Germany recently overtook the United States as a major donor to the UN Health Agency.
However, Tedros’ candidacy for a second term did not receive support from his native Ethiopia due to frictions over the conflict in Tigris.
The representative of Ethiopia in the assembly made it clear that the statement of Botswana congratulating Tedras does not represent all 47 countries of the African group.
“The established method of work of the African group is consensus. I would like to note that there was no consensus. Therefore, the honorable representative of Botswana cannot make a statement on behalf of the African group. “