WHO Boss "rethinking approach" in naming Mugabe as "goodwill ambassador after public uproar
| Updated Oct 22, 2017 at 7:17am
WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus.
The head of the World Health Organisation says he is "rethinking" his appointment of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe as a "goodwill ambassador".
In a new tweet, the New WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus says that "I'm listening. I hear your concerns. Rethinking the approach in light of WHO values. I will issue a statement as soon as possible."
The appointment of Mugabe has been met with widespread shock and condemnation, including from the United States, which sanctioned him more than a decade ago over his government's human rights abuses.
The 93-year-old Mugabe has been criticised at home for going abroad for medical treatment as his once-prosperous country's economy suffers.
The New WHO director-general announced President Mugabe’s role as a goodwill ambassador to the public health agency at a conference in Uruguay.
Mugabe, according to Ghebreyesus, who is from Ethiopia, could then leverage the high profile role “to influence his peers in his region,” ostensibly referring to African countries.
Mugabe's appointment means, he would be an ambassador on broad health issues like non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
The decision was immediately met with outrage by major public health and medical groups like Cancer Research UK, the World Heart Federation, Action Against Smoking, and about two dozen others who slammed Mugabe’s “long track record of human rights violations.”
Zimbabwe has faced long-standing international sanctions over such allegations—including of violent crackdowns on political dissidents, claims of electioneering, and starkly anti-LGBT policies.
Economic crises have also rocked the nation, making health recovery efforts that much more difficult.