Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus sole candidate for WHO chief

Friday October 29 2021
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. WHO says he is the sole candidate for the WHO leadership when his current term expires. PHOTO | AFP


World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is the sole candidate for the WHO leadership when his current term expires, the WHO announced Friday.

The 56-year-old Ethiopian former health and foreign minister has been at the forefront of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic as the head of the WHO. 

Elected to the WHO leadership in 2017, his mandate runs out in August next year.

Tedros secured the backing of 28 countries, including France, Germany, Indonesia, the Netherlands and Spain, the WHO said.

The deadline for nominations passed on September 23. Countries submitted a sealed envelope to the Geneva-based WHO, which did not open them before October 1.

In 2017, Tedros became the first African national to head the powerful UN agency.


He has been the public face of the WHO since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, and is relatively popular due to his role in steering the organisation's efforts to coordinate the pandemic response.

But his candidacy became complicated after Ethiopia allegedly withdrew its support over the conflict in his home region of Tigray.

Candidates for the UN health body's top slot are generally nominated by their home countries.

Tedros drew the ire of the Addis Ababa government by using the WHO platform to condemn the crackdown in Tigray.

Member states will formally vote for the next head of WHO in a secret ballot in May during the World Health Assembly, the organisation's main annual meeting of member states.