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This World Health Organization Leadership Election Is Crucial, And It’s Getting Ugly

By in Huffington Post on May 19, 2017

By Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D.

There is less than a week to go in the race to be the next Director-General of the World Health Organization. And given the WHO’s recent mis-steps, especially with regard to Ebola, this is a crucial election. Unfortunately, the race just got terribly nasty with its own “dirty tricks.”

The race has boiled down to a contest between Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia and Dr. David Nabarro of Britain.

Tedros, as he is universally known, is the former minister of health and foreign minister of Ethiopia. Under his leadership, Ethiopia trained and deployed approximately 40,000 community health care workers to almost every village in the country focusing on basic primary care: diagnosing and treating malaria, providing basic prenatal care and moving women to facility-based deliveries, and improving childhood nutrition.

David Nabarro is a global health “old hand,” working at the WHO since 1999. Over the years, he has coordinated or chaired numerous United Nations or WHO commissions, such as the Scale Up Nutrition effort and the Advisory Group to reform the WHO’s responses to infectious outbreaks and emergencies. Nabarro he has been most associated with the WHO’s responses to the cholera outbreak in Haiti, various influenza outbreaks, and from August 2014 to December 2015, the WHO’s anemic response to the Ebola outbreak in west Africa.

(The third candidate is Dr. Sania Nishtar, a Pakistani physician with little global health experience, and no one gives her much of a chance of winning.)

The final vote is next Monday. This past weekend the Tedros-Nabarro contest had it very own “Comey moment.” Larry Gostin of Georgetown Law School, a frequent WHO consultant and prominent global health scholar, released an unsubstantiated charge against Tedros. He claimed Tedros and the Ethiopian government covered up cholera outbreaks going back to 2006, calling them acute […]    

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