The World Health Organization has announced the three finalists running to become the next director general of the agency – and Ethiopian Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has made the short list.
Five candidates were interviewed Wednesday before a 34-member executive board, followed by an immediate vote to determine the three finalists.
In addition to Tedros, the finalists include Dr. Sania Nishtar of Pakistan and Dr. David Nabarro of Britain. The Italian candidate, Dr. Flavia Bustreo, and French contender Dr. Philippe Douste-Blazy were removed from consideration.
Tedros, a specialist in malaria and other disease who holds a PhD in community health from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, served as Ethiopia’s health minister from 2005 to 2012 before becoming Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2012. He served in the latter position until 2016.
The African Union endorsed his candidacy a year ago, and he is the preferred candidate of African nations including the Togolese government and Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as other global organizations and leaders who advocate for choosing an African to take the helm at WHO.
Tedros also received the most votes on Wednesday, according to sources speaking to medical news outlet Stat. He’s done so in a process to replace outgoing director Margaret Chan that was changed following criticisms of WHO, including management of the Ebola crisis in 2014.
In the past, the executive board has presented a preferred candidate for a vote; this time, the 190 member nations have a broader choice, and will each cast a vote during the May 2017 WHO Assembly.
Tedros has, however, been the recent target of critics who question his role in supporting Ethiopia’s repressive climate, which has received international attention during an ongoing six-month state of emergency.
The new WHO director will take office on July 1.