Tedros Adhanom looks set for a second term as Director-General of the World Health Organization after the German government endorsed his candidacy. We hear that no other candidate came forward before the deadline on 23 September.
Berlin’s nomination of Tedros resolves a tricky diplomatic problem on how to formalise his candidacy. A former health and foreign minister in Ethiopia, Tedros has been disowned by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed‘s government in Addis Ababa. It had accused him of supporting the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front. Tedros hails from Tigray where the TPLF been fighting federal troops since last November.
The WHO’s rules require a candidate to be nominated by at least one government, but not necessarily its home government.
Tedros has the support of several African nations, including Kenya, but they did not nominate him for fear of antagonising Abiy.
Tedros has battled to persuade wealthy nations, and the European Union, to share Covid vaccines with developing countries but with limited success. Just 3.6% of Africa’s eligible population has been inoculated. The WHO’s aim was for 10% of Africans to be vaccinated by the end of September.
Covax, the international body set up to coordinate vaccine delivery, is expected to fall nearly 30% short of its previous goal of delivering 2 billion Covid vaccine doses this year.
Tedros has also backed the campaign led by South Africa and India, but opposed by the EU, for patent waivers on Covid vaccines to allow developing countries to mass produce their own. Some Republican politicians in the United States were lobbying against Tedros’s reappointment over his support for a patents waiver. They also accused him of failing to press China harder on access for WHO investigators at the outset of the pandemic but failed to win enough support or to produce a viable candidate to challenge him.
Africa Confidential 2021