Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Early Life.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was born on 3 March 1965. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was elected as WHO Director-General for a five-year term by WHO Member States at the Seventieth World Health Assembly in May 2017. He is the first WHO Director-General to have been elected from multiple candidates by the World Health Assembly, and is the first person from the WHO African Region to serve as WHO’s chief technical and administrative officer. Immediately after taking office on 1 July 2017 Dr Tedros outlined five key priorities for the Organization: universal health coverage; health emergencies; women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health; health impacts of climate and environmental change; and a transformed WHO.
Dr Tedros served as Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2012–2016. In this role he led efforts to negotiate the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, in which 193 countries committed to the financing necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Dr Tedros served as Ethiopia’s Minister of Health from 2005–2012, where he led a comprehensive reform of the country’s health system. The transformation he led as Ethiopia’s Minister of Health improved access to health care for millions of people. Under his leadership Ethiopia invested in critical health infrastructure, expanded its health workforce, and developed innovative health financing mechanisms.
Born in the city of Asmara, Eritrea, Dr Tedros holds a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Community Health from the University of Nottingham and a Master of Science (MSc) in Immunology of Infectious Diseases from the University of London. Dr Tedros is globally recognised as a health scholar, researcher, and diplomat with first-hand experience in research, operations, and leadership in emergency responses to epidemics.
He received the Decoration of the Order of Serbian Flag in 2016, and was awarded the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Humanitarian Award in recognition of his contributions to the field of public health in 2011.
“Charming” and “unassuming” are some of the words those who know him use to describe Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Biography and Profile.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (also known as Dr Tedros) was born 3 March 1965 in Asmara, which became Eritrea’s capital after independence from Ethiopia in 1991, and grew up in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
Tedros’ is not a household name. The whole thing, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is foreign even to him, since in Ethiopia, everyone goes by their given name. “I remember the first time I went abroad and people were waiting for me with my name [on a sign]. I didn’t know who that person was,” he says, laughing.
You may not know his name, but Tedros is a celebrity in the global health and diplomacy worlds. As I trail him around the U.N. campus, we can’t go more than a dozen steps without someone asking for a photo, a handshake or simply a chance to say hello; one man hangs out of an idling car on Second Avenue just to get his attention. Tedros greets each person warmly and attentively–even if it means running late to his next appointment–while trying to remember dozens upon dozens of names.
Tedros built his reputation as a malariologist before becoming Ethiopia’s Minister of Health in 2005, then its Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2012. While Minister of Health, Tedros was widely praised for building a female-focused primary-care system that deployed 38,000 community-health workers throughout the country, easing the nation’s health care shortage and helping to reduce maternal and child mortality by about 60% each, compared with 2000.
Still, his time in Ethiopia was not without conflict: the country had an abysmal human-rights record during his tenure in government, and while campaigning to become the WHO’s Director-General in 2017, Tedros was accused by opponents of covering up cholera outbreaks in his home country. (He denied that charge then, and continues to do so today. “They knew during the campaign they were losing ground, so they had to try their last try to discredit it,” he says now.)
About World Health Organization.
World Health Organization (WHO) operates as a non-profit organization. The Organization focuses on health care, financial protection, setting norms and standards, policy formulation, monitoring, as well as assessing health trends. World Health Organization serves members in Switzerland.
At his first press conference as WHO director general, the Geneva-based journalists were somewhat bemused by his manner. He strolled in smiling, sat down and chatted in a very relaxed way, his voice sometimes so quiet it was difficult to hear him. That was a very big change from his more formal predecessor, Margaret Chan. And yet behind that quiet manner there must lie a very determined man.
Before becoming head of the WHO he climbed through the ranks of Ethiopia’s government, becoming health minister and then foreign minister. He could not have risen that far by being self-effacing.
Dr Tedros became a member of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which was in the vanguard of the 1991 overthrow of Ethiopia’s Marxist dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam. As a government minister from 2005, he was seen as more approachable and friendly than some of his more austere TPLF comrades.
He has been praised for reforming the health sector and improving access to health care in Ethiopia, Africa’s most populous state after Nigeria. But when he was in charge, his ministry was known to discourage journalists from reporting about suspected cholera cases in the country.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Education Background.
Tedros holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Community Health from the University of Nottingham in the UK and a Master of Science in Immunology of Infectious Diseases from the University of London.
An outbreak monopolised the global attention: the SARS-CoV-2 virus that was first detected late last year in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province. As of March 17, the virus has spread to some 150 countries, infecting more than 170,00 people and causing 7,019 deaths.
The entire planet hanging on your every word, addressing daily press conferences at the headquarters in Geneva to detail an ever increasing number of cases in an ever increasing number of countries.
This is the lot of Ethiopian Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the first African head of the WHO, who took office two-and-a-half years ago promising to reform the organisation, and to tackle the illnesses that kill millions each year: malaria, measles, childhood pneumonia, or HIV/Aids.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus labelled the coronavirus a pandemic. That means they require 24-hour monitoring, deployment of medical staff, equipment and medicines, daily discussions with affected countries and countries who might be affected, and of course, a steady stream of reliable information for an anxious world desperate for immediate answers.
“You cannot fight a fire blindfolded, and we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected,” Dr Tedros said, insisting that, without testing, cases cannot be isolated and the chain of infection will not be broken. “We have a simple message to all countries. Test, test, test,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva, describing the pandemic as “the defining global health crisis of our time”.
And yet, while the WHO is undoubtedly working hard on those illnesses, Dr Tedros’ time in office has been dominated first by Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and now by Covid-19. Both have been declared Public Health Emergencies of International Concern, or PHEICs.
Now, in the midst of a global outbreak of a brand new virus, his judgement is being questioned again. Some want him to declare a pandemic, others, including senior officials at the WHO, point out that it is only a word, and making the declaration would not change the WHO’s strategy to contain the disease.
Then there are virologists and epidemiologists, some of whom say the WHO’s advice to member states to adopt “robust, aggressive” containment measures is too feeble, and others who say the WHO is over-reacting.
We have been here before. Dr Chan was criticised for a perceived overreaction to the 2010 swine flu outbreak, over which she declared a pandemic and advised countries to spend millions on medicines most did not, in the end, need.
Then she was seen to react far too slowly to West Africa’s catastrophic Ebola outbreak, which claimed at least 11,000 lives.
“Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”, is a phrase you often hear at WHO headquarters.
The success of Dr Tedros, and the WHO as a whole, at handling the coronavirus will not be really clear until the crisis is over. For now, he will keep on advising countries to prepare, to diagnose, to trace, and to contain.
Every day he gives a press conference, every day his words are flashed around the world. And despite the pressure to come up with answers, despite the constant media spotlight, he remains quiet and friendly. The end of each press conference is always the same; a gathering of papers, a smile, and “see you tomorrow”.
Prof Gostin believes Dr Tedros has become “the symbol of leadership” in the course of the coronavirus crisis. But, he warns, the WHO’s “fundamental weaknesses are still there, including pitiful funding”.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Brother Died of Suspected Measles.
When Tedros was a child living in Ethiopia, his younger brother–then just 3 or 4–died of what he now suspects was measles. “I didn’t accept it; I don’t accept it even now,” Tedros says of his brother’s death. He was able to assign words to that feeling when, at age 23, he spent four months studying in Denmark after graduating from Eritrea’s University of Asmara with a degree in biology, and saw universal health care in action.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus struggled to reconcile “the unfairness” of a world where boys like his brother could die because of an accident of birth, while other children prospered in countries with better access to care.
The feeling only intensified when he grew acquainted with the U.K.’s national health system while working toward his master’s in infectious-disease immunology in London in the early 1990s, and again in 1997, when he got a front-row seat to Sweden’s universal-coverage system. “Why do people die when we have the means?” he asks. “That motivates me.”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Controversy.
During his highly efficient and ultimately successful campaign to lead the WHO, Dr Tedros’ supporters dismissed allegations that he had covered up cholera outbreaks. That is why “persuasive” and “political” are also words which crop up regularly when discussing his leadership of the WHO. He knows that the WHO’s success tackling global health crises depends on the co-operation of the organisation’s 194 member states.
During the current Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo, he has travelled there several times, not just to see the situation but to also talk to government leaders. And he moved quickly to visit Beijing when news of the coronavirus outbreak emerged.
“His strategy is to coax China to transparency and international co-operation rather than criticising the government,” says Lawrence Gostin, Professor of Global Health Law at Georgetown University.
But has that actually worked? Some WHO watchers have criticised the effusive praise heaped on China for its containment measures. After his trip to Beijing, Dr Tedros said China had set “a new standard for outbreak control”.
A few days later, he told world leaders meeting at the Munich Security Conference that China’s actions had “bought the world time”.
Such comments sit uneasily with the knowledge that China arrested health workers who first raised the alarm about the outbreak. There is criticism too that Dr Tedros waited too long to declare a PHEIC.
“I was one of the first to ask him to call a PHEIC,” says Prof Gostin. “Having said that, it was only a short delay and I don’t think the timing had any impact on the trajectory of Covid-19.”
“I do worry quite a bit however that his effusive praise for China could in the long term tarnish the WHO’s reputation as a trusted scientific authority willing to speak truth to power.”
While Dr Tedros may be political, a lot of that political effort seems to be spent reassuring authoritarian, untransparent governments, in a bid to get them to work with the WHO to tackle diseases which threaten global health.
When it comes to perceiving how that effort may be viewed by governments in Western democracies, his political skills may not be quite so sharp.
Shortly after taking office he proposed Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president at the time, as a WHO goodwill ambassador, saying he had worked to make Zimbabwe “a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies”.
Only after days of outrage, not just from governments, but from human rights groups, who pointed to the deprivation that Mr Mugabe’s regime had inflicted on its people, did Dr Tedros decide to withdraw his proposal.
All Roads Lead to Universal Health Coverage.
It should come as no surprise that the man at the helm of the world’s leading global health organization–after a decade serving as Minister of Health, then Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia–is laser-focused on the issues that keep the public-health community up at night: child and maternal mortality; climate change; infectious-disease outbreaks; emergency preparedness; and, most of all, that “half of the world’s population doesn’t have access to essential services.”
That’s why Tedros is committed to the WHO’s goal of helping every country implement universal health coverage by 2030, calling on every nation, no matter how rich or poor, to put an additional 1% of its gross domestic product toward primary health care.
Tedros believes universal health care is a fundamental human right. But from his perspective, it’s also a logical political selling point: it keeps people out of poverty and strengthens economies; helps prevent and contain epidemics (like the Ebola outbreak raging in the Democratic Republic of Congo for more than a year), keeping an increasingly globalized world safe from unchecked spread of disease; and it can lessen racial, socioeconomic and gender disparities by securing better care for vulnerable populations.
“All roads lead to universal health coverage,” Tedros said. “It’s when we have strong health systems in each and every country that the world becomes safe. We’re as strong as the weakest link.”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Family.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is married, with five children and lives in Ethiopia.