Mugabe WHO appointment 'contradicts United Nations ideals'

Mugabe WHO appointment 'contradicts United Nations ideals'

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the United Nations health agency, this week asked Zimbabwe's 93-year-old authoritarian leader to serve in the role to help tackle non-communicable diseases such as heart attacks, strokes and asthma across Africa.

Dr Tedros is an Ethiopian who became the WHO's first African director-general in July, replacing Margaret Chan who stepped down after 10 years of service.

Ghebreyesus' tweet came after Britain said Mugabe's appointment was "surprising and disappointing" and added that it risked overshadowing the WHO's global work.

There is one doctor for every 100,000 patients in the country, as health workers leave the country in search of better opportunities, said Biti.

Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe's main opposition party, labelled the appointment "laughable".

"The whole world knows what Mugabe has done on the health delivery of this once great country". His repeated visits to Singapore have heightened concerns over his health, even as he pursues re-election next year.

Director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was thinking again in light of the controversy caused by the announcement.

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In 2008 the charitable group Physicians for Human Rights issued a damning indictment of Mugabe's dictatorial and repressive regime, saying the mounting health care crisis in the country was entirely manufactured by an inept and inefficient government.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom government described his selection as "surprising and disappointing" given his country's rights record, and warned it could overshadow the WHO's work.

United Nations agencies often name high-profile personalities as goodwill ambassadors to draw attention to their work, including actress Angelina Jolie with the refugee agency UNHCR.

"When I heard of Robert Mugabe's appointment. quite frankly, I thought it was a bad April Fool's joke", he told reporters.

Mr Mugabe was supposed to be goodwill ambassador "to help tackle non-communicable diseases", which includes things like heat attacks and asthma.

They say his government has presided over a sharp decline in Zimbabwe's health.with many people unable to access food, clean water, basic sanitation and health care.

He had previously praised Zimbabwe for its commitment to public health.

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