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WHO head Tedros unopposed for new term

The World Health Organisation says its director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is running unopposed for a second five-year term.

Tedros, the first African to head the UN health agency, has overseen its complex response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has overshadowed his tenure.

Trained in biology and infectious diseases with a doctorate in community health, he is also the first WHO chief who is not a medical doctor.

The UN health agency made the announcement after the deadline for candidacies for the next term expired last month and Tedros’ name was proposed by 28 countries: more than half of them European and three African: Botswana, Kenya and Rwanda.

The formal selection of the next director-general takes place at the WHO’s next assembly in May.

A former health and foreign minister from Ethiopia, Tedros – who goes by his first name – received a strong endorsement when France and Germany announced their support for him shortly after the nomination period closed.

Tedros has repeatedly aired concerns about the deadly Tigray conflict in Ethiopia, and the Ethiopian government shunned his candidacy over his criticism and positions in the former Tigrayan-dominated national government.

It has accused him of supporting the rival Tigray forces.

Tedros has been a leading voice urging wealthy countries with large COVID-19 vaccine stockpiles and the big pharmaceutical companies that make them to do more to improve access to the jabs in the developing world – a call that has largely gone unheeded.

He has also called for a moratorium on jabs for children and booster shots so that more doses could be made available quicker to poorer countries, which has also mostly fallen on deaf ears.

The WHO says more than 60 countries are now administering about one million booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines each day – about three times the number of first-time vaccine doses being administered daily in lower-income countries.

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