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The World Health Organization announced Wednesday that three finalists are in the running to become the next director-general of the global health agency.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, 51, of Ethiopia, Dr. Sania Nishtar, 53, of Pakistan, and Dr. David Nabarro, 67, of Britain were selected as finalists in the competition to replace Dr. Margaret Chan, whose second term of office ends June 30. Their voting tallies were in that order, sources told STAT.

Knocked out of contention were Dr. Flavia Bustreo, 55, of Italy, a WHO assistant director-general, and France’s Dr. Philippe Douste-Blazy, 64, at one point considered a strong contender for the job.


The election of the global health agency’s eighth director-general will take place in May when its 194 member states convene in Geneva for the WHO’s annual general meeting, the World Health Assembly.

The contenders are vying to take the reins of the UN’s leading health agency, which has been buffeted by criticism in recent years, largely due to its slow response to massive outbreak of Ebola in West Africa in 2014.


Multiple post-mortem reports slammed the WHO’s handling of that crisis and called for an overhaul of the agency, particularly its emergency response capacity. That work is underway with the creation of a health emergencies program.

Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said whoever wins the role has a big job on his or her hands.

“Under the leadership of one of these candidates, the WHO needs to make the case for greater investment in public health and be fearless in calling out countries that fail to play their part,” Farrar said in a statement.

“This is a time for decisive, inspirational leadership. It’s a chance to start a new chapter in global health. We look forward to hearing more from the shortlisted candidates about how they will provide this leadership in the months remaining before the World Health Assembly.”

Originally six candidates were vying for the position, which carries a five-year term. But following rules set out for this election, the WHO’s executive board pared that list down to five on Tuesday, knocking out Dr. Miklós Szócska, 56, of Hungary.

The remaining five candidates were interviewed Wednesday behind closed doors, after which the 34-member executive board voted to winnow the list down to three.

It had been thought voting might go late into the night in Geneva, but the outcome was quick. As expected, the presence of multiple Europeans on the ballot appeared to have split theirs votes. That raises the possibility that Nabarro may benefit from the departure of Bustreo and Douste-Blazy.

Countries have been holding their cards close to their vests on this election. The US representative on the executive board, Dr. Tom Frieden — until last week the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — would not reveal for whom he’d been instructed to support.

Even if countries had declared their preferences, the voting process would have made it hard to predict the outcome.

In Wednesday’s voting, each representative voted for three people. The system may have been devised to try to ensure that the three strongest candidates made it to the final round. But observers predicted lots of strategic voting, with countries shoring up their favorites’ chances by using their second and third votes to support candidates who are perceived to be weaker than the rest.

Tedros — a former health and foreign affairs minister from Ethiopia, he is known by his first name — has the support of the African Union, potentially a bloc of 54 votes at the World Health Assembly. His is the only non-physician among the candidates; he has a PhD in community health.

Nabarro has spent much of his career in first the WHO and then the United Nations. He is currently the special adviser to the UN secretary general on sustainable development and climate change.

Nishtar is a former health minister from Pakistan with extensive experience both nationally and internationally in the civil society sector.

  • DR- His World Class Mind Like The Former PM Meles Zenawi
    He’s The Best And Yes He Can!

  • Dr. is the best candidate for WHO deuto his honesty,hardworking,responsibility,respectfulness,and success of his previous carriers.and also he thinks and acts globaly. so i am sure that he will improve over all services of it is better to give our vote for him.

  • So many people concerned about WHO candidate Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus because of his human right violation history and misused fund while he was health minster WHO Representatives please read those two
    Article about Dr Terose written by Professor Frank Ashall…/questions-for-dr-tedros…/

    Article Written by Journalist and Human right activist Abebe Gellaw…/tedros-adhanom-played-a-key-role-in…/

    I hope it wont be to late for WHO to discover about Tedros Adhanom that he is not the right person.

  • Ethiopia is one of the nations in the Eastern region of African continent where more or less ethnic groups got recognition though political power remained in the hands of Amhara and Tigray ethnic society for centuries when the rest of ethnic members including Oromos whom the make up nearly 40 percent of the total population undermined and marginalized . The Amhara dynasty monopolized power since 1974 where the military took control of political power overthrowing Emperor Hailesselasie . A military government of colonel Mengistu Hailemariam still dominated by Amhara Ethnic members has overthrown by the collaborate effort of Tigray people Liberation Front /TPLF and Eretirean people liberatio Front /EPLF in May 1991 after 17 years armed struggle. During the 17 years devastating armed struggle ,innocent civilians from Tigray and Eretirean crowds in market places ,innocent schoo children were bomb blasted .A genocid against the people of Tigray and Eretirea has officially declared by the military leadership . Being one among victims of the regime ,a memory of the ugliest truth can’t escape as such easily . However ,my aim is not to stir on the past .It is rather pay a focus on the sentiments in Ethiopia .Following an overthrow of a military government of Ethiopia, upper hand control of socio-economic and political power by the Amhara elite has terminated and the Ethiopian people Revolutionary Democratic Front /EPRDF ,a multi party where TPLF is also a founding member of the alliance has overtaken responsibility of a leadership .The Oromo peope, Amhara and others have been represended by by the OPDO,ANDM respectively where many scholars ,especially from Amhara argue TPLF,is a master mind with in the alliance . I also believe the role of TPLF at decision making had a substance during the late ex minister Melese Zenawi and where is the kind of influence with the current priminister is not a member of Tigray ethnicity .More over ,even a representation of Tigray ethnic society in a ministerial post is very much limited . No matter how fair is the leadership and the way power sharing is articulated, it so tough to avoid ethnic sentiments and conflicts ethnic origin in Ethiopia. The outlook has been there for centuries and it is still our worst enemy with some from every province are not behaviourally transformed in a way to provide support or vote against . With a relevant circumstance since then taken in to account ,it is quit a norm that sentiments against a glowing humble manner of Dr. Tedros Adhanom vougly appearing from his home soil contrary to a support manifested from the continent and the world on his nomination for a DG of World Health Organization/WHO .

  • I believe Dr. Tedros will carryout his responsibilities diligently and faithfully.

  • Dr Tedros is responsible for the genocid committed by Ethiopian government against the Ethiopian people in Amhara and oromia region. It’s a matter of time that he will be arrested and prosecuted and Justice will be given to the Ethiopian people.

  • Dr Tedros is really capable to achieve what the world keeps/expects from WHO. So let’s give him a chance to lead WHO. Thanks!

  • Dr. Tedros is uniquely qualified to lead the WHO. He is honest,intelligent and humble person who has done a lot for his country and for Africa. Now he will do more for the world

    • Dr. Tedros is a narcissist and racist guy who killed so many innocent Ethiopians. He is directly responsible for the death and imprisonment of so many young Ethiopian (especially those who are not from his tribe).

  • I would like India to support pakistan candidate ,leaving behind everything thing political ,even if they might not have supported India for similar postion elsewhere .

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