Health Desk: Oct 22, 2017-- The head of the World Health Organization said Saturday that he was "rethinking" his decision to name Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe a goodwill ambassador, as global outrage over the move mounted.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the UN health agency, had this week asked Zimbabwe's 93-year-old authoritarian leader to serve in the role to help tackle non-communicable diseases like heart attacks, strokes and asthma across Africa.
The decision triggered confusion and anger among key WHO member states and activists who noted that Zimbabwe's health care system, like many of its public services, has collapsed under Mugabe's regime.
"I'm listening. I hear your concerns. Rethinking the approach in light of WHO values. I will issue a statement as soon as possible," Tedros, a former Ethiopian health minister, said on Twitter.
Tedros took charge of WHO in July, becoming the first African to lead the powerful UN agency.
In announcing the appointment in Uruguay's capital this week, Tedros had praised Zimbabwe as "a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide health care to all."