World Health Organization rescinds Mugabe appointment amid backlash

Randolph Lopez
October 23, 2017

Critics claimed his policies and long record of alleged human rights abuses have had a disastrous impact on his country's health system.

The 93-year-old Mugabe, the world's oldest head of state, has always been criticized at home for going overseas for medical treatment as Zimbabwe's once-prosperous economy falls apart.

However, by 2006 Zimbabwe had the worst life expectancy in the world, with women expected to live until they were only 36, and men to 37.

The United States called the appointment of Mugabe by WHO's first African leader "disappointing".

The decision to name Mr Mugabe was met with shock and condemned by health officials and countries including the US.

Britain said Mugabe's appointment as a goodwill ambassador for non-communicable diseases in Africa was "surprising and disappointing" and that it risked overshadowing the WHO's global work.

"Given Mugabe's appalling human rights record, calling him a goodwill ambassador for anything embarrasses World Health Organization and Dr Tedros", said Iain Levine, a Human Rights Watch director.

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The 93-year-old Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, has come under criticism at home for his frequent overseas travels that have cost impoverished Zimbabwe millions of dollars. "The notion that the United Nations should now spin this country as a great supporter of health is, frankly, sickening".

With Mugabe on hand, Tedros announced the appointment at a conference in Uruguay this week on non-communicable diseases.

Zimbabwe's government hasn't commented on the appointment, but the state-run Zimbabwe Herald newspaper called it a "new feather in the president's cap".

"We have registered our concerns with WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus", a foreign office spokesperson said in an email.

The MDC-T described the appointment as "laughable". "He and his family go outside of the country for treatment in Singapore after he allowed our public hospitals to collapse".

Twenty-six health bodies from around the world, including the World Heart Federation, Action Against Smoking and Cancer Research UK, released a joint statement condemning Mugabe's new role.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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