WHO cannot be ignorant of Zimbabwe health crisis
2017-11-01 15:00:00 -

The director-general of the World Health Organization caused some controversy last month when he appointed Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe its goodwill ambassador for public health.


Praising Zimbabwe for its apparent commitment in the field, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said President Mugabe would use his symbolic position “to influence his peers in his region” to promote a range of health issues, including noncommunicable diseases like heart disease and cancer.


But two days later, in the face of intense international criticism, the former Ethiopian health minister revoked Mugabe’s appointment. “I have listened carefully to all who have expressed their concerns, and heard the different issues that they have raised,” he said in reference to the outcry, adding: “We must build bridges that bring us together and help us move forward in our quest to achieve universal health coverage.”


While we welcome Tedros’ rethinking, we are still yet to comprehend the rationale behind the initial decision to nominate a leader as notorious as Robert Mugabe for such an important role. Does it mean that the WHO is out of touch with reality?


As recently reported in Metro Éireann, it is a fact that President Mugade, who depends on foreign hospitals for his treatment, has collapsed the public healthcare system in his own country. State-run hospitals and clinics frequently run out of basic medicines such as antibiotics and painkillers, according to Citizens Health Watch – which is known to the WHO. The organisation cannot claim ignorance of this worsening health crisis in Zimbabwe.



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