GENEVA: The head of the World Health Organization on Sunday reversed his decision to name Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador following widespread uproar against the appointment.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former Ethiopian health minister who took charge of the UN agency in July, had earlier this week given Mugabe the honorary role to help combat non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Africa.
But activists, public health experts and key WHO donors like Britain, Canada and the United States condemned the move, saying Zimbabwe’s healthcare system has collapsed under Mugabe’s 37-year authoritarian rule.
“Over the last few days, I have reflected on my appointment of H.E. President Robert Mugabe as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for NCDs in Africa. As a result, I have decided to rescind the appointment,” Tedros said in a statement.
“I have listened carefully to all who have expressed their concerns,” he added.
“I have also consulted with the government of Zimbabwe and we have concluded that this decision is in the best interests of the World Health Organization.” — AFP