LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the world’s largest HIV/AIDS care provider globally, voiced deep disappointment today over Germany’s decision to back the current World Health Organization (WHO) chief’s bid for a second term at the helm of the beleaguered United Nations agency.
Multiple news reports indicate that Germany and 17 other countries have expressed their support for nominating Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as the next WHO Director-General, and that he is running unopposed by any other candidate. The nomination process concluded last week, but the envelopes with official nominations will not be unsealed until the end of October. The final decision will be made at the World Health Assembly in May 2022. Tedros, former Ethiopian minister for health and foreign affairs, was not co-sponsored for reappointment by Ethiopia or any other African nation.
“With only one candidate in the running—one who has been repeatedly criticized for his abysmal handling of the pandemic and pandering to China—this looks like a sham election. Germany has already damaged its global humanitarian image by opposing patent waivers on COVID-19 vaccines, and now it is throwing its weight behind a candidate who, based on abundant past experience, is clearly not qualified to handle the crisis the world is in,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “The choice of only one candidate is indicative of the dysfunction at the WHO. How can anyone say that Tedros has done such a magnificent job that no other candidates should even be considered? This election is the clearest sign yet that the WHO is broken and needs wholesale restructuring.”
If elected for a second term, Tedros will remain in office for another five years. With a track record that included delays in declaring COVID-19 a public health emergency, then further delays with declaring it a pandemic, praise for China’s transparency, a lack of clear messaging on critical public health measures, and the inability to secure sufficient vaccines and resources, particularly for Africa, a second term could spell dire consequences for the pandemic recovery.
Regrettably, sensible public health measures are too often sacrificed in the interest of global politics. History might judge harshly Germany and others who opted for business as usual at a moment when the world needed new and bold leadership to overcome COVID-19.