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World Health Organization Director General Rescinds Mugabe Goodwill Ambassador Appointment

  • Gibbs Dube

FILE: Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, addresses the United Nations High-level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, Thursday April 21, 2016 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

World Health Organization director general, Tedros Ghebreyesus, has rescinded the appointment of President Robert as a goodwill ambassador following a public outcry.

In a statement posted on its website Sunday, Ghebreyesus said, “Over the last few days, I have reflected on my appointment of H.E. President Robert Mugabe as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for NCDs (non communicable diseases) in Africa. As a result I have decided to rescind the appointment.

“I have listened carefully to all who have expressed their concerns, and heard the different issues that they have raised. I have also consulted with the Government of Zimbabwe and we have concluded that this decision is in the best interests of the World Health Organization.

It is my aim to build a worldwide movement for global health. This movement must work for everyone and include everyone.”

Ghebreyesus noted that “for me, what is important is to build political leadership and create unity around bringing health to all, based on WHO’s core values. I remain firmly committed to working with all countries and their leaders to ensure that every one has access to the health care they need.”

“We must build bridges that bring us together and help us move forward in our quest to achieve universal health coverage. I thank everyone who has voiced their concerns and shared their thoughts. I depend on constructive debate to help and inform the work I have been elected to do.”

There was a public outcry last week when Ghebreyesus appointed Mr. Mugabe with political and civic society leaders expressing dismay over the move, stressing that the Zimbabwean leader is unfit to be an ambassador to champion the fight against cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and other non communicable diseases in Africa.

They cited Zimbabwe as a bad example of how to run health services, noting that people are failing to even access public medical facilities due to the current harsh economic situation in the southern African nation.

But his backers said he was the right candidate for the position as Mr. Mugabe always fights for oppressed people in Africa and other nations.

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