10 Interesting Facts About WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Adhanom Ghebreyesus  

Dr. Adhanom Gabreyhesus has been an inspirational African healthcare leader. We made a brief compilation of some facts about this amazing leader.

Dr. Adhanom Ghebreyesus‘ responses to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic have given him special recognition worldwide. 

A few days back, at the seventy-fifth World Health Assembly, Member States re-elected Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to serve a second five-year term as Director-General of the World Health Organization. 

“Our vision is not health for some. It’s not health for most. It’s health for all: rich and poor, able and disabled, old and young, urban and rural, citizen and refugee. Everyone, everywhere.”

Dr. Tedros

Dr. Tedros was first elected in 2017. 

Under his visionary leadership, the World Health Organization has gone through wide innovative transformations, increasing the organization’s efficiency and driving impact at the country level promoting healthier lives, protecting people in emergencies, and increasing equitable access to health. 

  • He is the first non-physician Public Health Specialist to lead the World’s apex healthcare organization. 
  • Dr. Tedros was born in the Eritrean city of Asmara, Ethiopia. 
  • When he was just seven-year-old, Tedros witnessed the death of his younger brother who died from a preventable illness that would have been curable in a country with a functioning health system. But in Ethiopia at the time, there was nothing in place that would have helped his younger brother. 
  • He was the first WHO Director-General elected from among multiple candidates by the World Health Assembly and was the first person from the WHO African Region to head the World’s leading public health agency.
  • He is credited with overhauling Ethiopia’s entire healthcare structure which was highly challenged. His reforms led to dramatic gains in indicators such as child and maternal health.
  • After taking office as WHO Director-General on 1 July 2017, Dr. Tedros initiated the most significant transformation in the Organization’s history, which has generated a wide range of achievements.
  • Before first being appointed WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ethiopia from 2012 to 2016 and as Minister of Health, Ethiopia from 2005 to 2012.
  • He had also served as chair of the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria; as chair of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership Board; and as co-chair of the Board of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. 
  • Dr. Tedros graduated from the University of Asmara with a Bachelor of Biology, before earning a Master of Science (MSc) in Immunology of Infectious Diseases from the University of London, a Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Community Health from the University of Nottingham, and an Honorary Fellowship from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
  • Dr. Tedros has also received multiple national and institutional recognitions, including becoming the first non-American to be awarded the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Humanitarian Award in 2011 in recognition of his contributions to public health.

“WHO’s work is about serving people, about serving humanity. Most importantly, it’s about fighting to ensure the health of people is a basic human right.”

Dr. Tedros

Awards And Recognitions

Dr. Adhenom Gabreyhesus
  • The first non-American to be awarded the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Humanitarian Award in 2011 in recognition of his contributions to public health.
  • Grande Officier of the National Order of Benin (l’Ordre National de Benin) in 2018.
  • The Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of Saint Agatha from San Marino in 2019.
  • The Bridge Maker Award of the 14th August Committee of Norway in 2020.
  • Global Health Leader Award presented by Amref Health Africa in 2021. 

Source: WHO.


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