Mugabe Removed as WHO Goodwill Ambassador

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World Health Organization chief Tedros Ghebreyesus now says he is "rethinking" his decision and will issue a statement "as soon as possible".

He said the decision to rescind the appointment was in the "best interests of the World Health Organisation".

With questions about Dr. Tedros judgment in the first place, it's worth pointing out this WHO D-G, as a former senior leader of an authoritarian Ethiopian government, will be more comfortable with someone with Mugabe's reputation than any of his eight previous World Health Organization predecessors.

Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.

As the New York Times wrote in 2009, a delegation from Physicians for Human Rights "found that the Mugabe regime destroyed the country's health care system and pursued policies that ruined what had been a vibrant agriculture, depriving all but a tiny elite of proper nutrition, water, and a sustainable livelihood".

"The government of Robert Mugabe has brutalized human rights activists, crushed democracy dissidents and turned the breadbasket of Africa - and its health system - into a basket case", Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, which monitors the performance of world body had said.

"President Mugabe's appointment is surprising and disappointing, particularly in light of the current USA and European Union sanctions against him", said a UK Government spokesman.

He is also a former health and foreign minister of Ethiopia.

The appointment was condemned by two dozen health organisations.

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"He (Tedros) has to remember where his funding comes from", said one health official who declined to be identified.

But activists inside the country said it was "absurd" to give the role to Mugabe, who has been accused of ruining his country's health system and regularly flies overseas for his own medical treatment.

Dr Tedros, elected under the slogan "let's prove the impossible is possible" had said he hoped Mr Mugabe would use his goodwill ambassador role to "influence his peers in the region".

"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".

"Canada calls for this appointment to be rescinded".

Information for this article was contributed by staff members of The Associated Press.

Some global health leaders moved quickly to show support, commending the reversal. This movement must work for everyone and include everyone.

"For me, what is important is to build political leadership and create unity around bringing health to all, based on WHO's core values".

Dr. Tedros said he is firmly committed to ensuring that "everyone has access to the healthcare they need". I hear your concerns.

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