Guest Editorial: WHO under DG Tedros – The Last Five Years

At this point, global health policy-making needs predictability. When the WHO Executive Board nominated DG Tedros for a second term, last week, it should have assuaged anxious politicians, the scientific establishment, and the world’s people. The continuity of leadership at WHO, is helpful, given that WHO remains at the eye of the storm.

Sources told us that of the 34 members of the EB, 31 members endorsed the nomination of Tedros (the rest were reportedly absent). Recall that Tedros was voted into office with a historic and an overwhelming majority in 2017. His mandate was absolute and powerful.

Some would question whether the promise held by that mandate was brought to bear on the multilateral institution that he leads. The responses have been mixed depending on who you speak to. For one, it appears that the donors are reasonably happy.

Institutions are shaped and beaten by the forces of their times. And WHO is no exception. Even so, we believe that individuals and leaders can make a difference and go against the tide. To be sure, the forces unleashed by the pandemic are simply too strong to hold against. And yet, Tedros and his team have led from the front. To an extent.

Tedros inherited the legacy of WHO’s chronic financial troubles and the changing world order. The pandemic has proven to be the flame that has tested his mettle.

In these pages, we have often noted the candor and clarity of the WHO DG during these difficult times. And yet on several occasions, he has toed the line as any politician would – a lost opportunity, in our view, to side with the “less powerful.”

At the cusp of his second term, are we yet to see the best of Tedros? (We would love to report on this, as soon as we have an opportunity to interview him!)

In the meantime, we bring you a guest editorial by K M Gopakumar, a legal expert at the Third World Network, and a critical, seasoned watcher of WHO governance and politics.

Tedros, he says, has “fast-tracked multi-stakerholderism”. Read on….

Photo by DLKR from Pexels

Read the editorial here

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