NOV. 24, 2022
BY JENNY LEI RAVELO AND AMRUTA BYATNAL
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced Tuesday the names of his senior management team members who will leave the organization at the end of the month in an email sent to staff and seen by Devex. This puts an end to speculation and rumors that have been swirling in Geneva for months.
· Several people working in global health and WHO staffers have long known about the leadership changes. Dr. Soumya Swaminathan confirmed her departure last week, and Assistant Director-General on Drug Access, Vaccines and Pharmaceuticals Dr. Mariângela Simão has reportedly told several people that she’s leaving WHO ahead of the announcement.
· But some of the names came as a surprise, such as Dr. Jaouad Mahjour. He’s the one overseeing the pandemic treaty negotiations and the process to reform the International Health Regulations for WHO. “It will be interesting to see whom Dr. Tedros appoints to take over from Dr. Mahjour — at this critical juncture,” says Thiru Balasubramaniam, Geneva representative of Knowledge Ecology International.
· Some, meanwhile, expressed hope that the work started by Dr. Princess Nothemba Simelela in addressing racism at the World Health Organization will continue. “[S]he was leading a transformational agenda on eliminating racism in the WHO with training sessions for WHO staff, and would really like to see this work continue,” Fifa Rahman, a civil society representative with ACT-A, tells Jenny. Rahman is also hoping incoming senior officials will have the same “sense of pragmatism and passion for equitable access to medical technologies,” as Swaminathan and Simão exemplified in their work at WHO.
· The biggest question is: Who will be replacing these departing senior officials? To date, only former French Ambassador for Global Health Stephanie Seydoux has announced joining the organization as its new envoy for multilateral affairs, replacing Agnès Buzyn.
· Some also wonder if Tedros will make any changes to the current management structure. In 2019, he created new positions, such as the assistant director-general for data, analytics, and delivery position currently held by Dr. Samira Asma.