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New WHO chief: Top goal is universal health care

Published:Tuesday | May 23, 2017 | 12:00 AM
A woman holds a portrait of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus from Ethiopia, candidate to the position of Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), as a group of supporters cheer in front of the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday


The new head of the World Health Organization says his "central priority" will be working to achieve universal health coverage, while pledging to "provide value for money" and reform the U.N. agency.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia thanked WHO's Assembly after its 185 voting members elected him yesterday over Britain's David Nabarro and Sania Nishtar of Pakistan.

Tedros, who goes by his first name, spoke out about diversity and the importance of listening. He vowed to focus on the most needy and noted the importance of effective partnerships with health care providers.

He said "all roads lead to universal health coverage. This will be my central priority." Only about half of the world's population has access to health care "without impoverishment."

While he acknowledged it was "challenging times for global health," Tedros pledged that "we will innovate and measure our progress by clearly-defined outcomes."