News Worms
News Worms

World Health Organization rescinds Mugabe goodwill role

World Health Organization rescinds Mugabe goodwill role

But the NCD Alliance, which represents 28 global health groups seeking to combat chronic diseases, said it was "shocked and deeply concerned" to hear of the appointment, given Mugabe's "long track record of human rights violations".

"I have chose to rescind the appointment", Ghebreyesus said Saturday in a statement, saying he had "reflected" on his decision.

The Zimbabwe president also faces sanctions over his government's human rights abuses. Mugabe also faces USA sanctions over his government's human rights abuses.

However, the move has been condemned by human rights groups and global bodies, which say Zimbabwe's healthcare system has collapsed under Mugabe's authoritarian regime.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the appointment at a high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Uruguay on Wednesday.

At the time, Tedros 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".

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

Mr Tedros, elected in May under the slogan "let's prove the impossible is possible" had said he hoped Mr Mugabe would use his goodwill ambassador role to "influence his peers in the region".

"The whole world knows what Mugabe has done on the health delivery of this once great country". "He and his family go outside of the country for treatment in Singapore after he allowed our public hospitals to collapse".

Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper reported the appointment under the headline "New feather in President's cap".

Staff often go without pay, medicines are in short supply, and Mr Mugabe, who has outlived the average life expectancy in his country by three decades, travels overseas for medical treatment.

FILE PHOTO Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe gestures as he attends the 2nd Session of the South Africa-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission in Pretoria, South Africa, October 3, 2017.

According to WHO, non-communicable diseases are by far the leading cause of death in the world, killing more than 36 million people each year.

The heads of United Nations agencies and the United Nations secretary-general typically choose celebrities and other prominent people as ambassadors to draw attention to global issues of concern, such as refugees (Angelina Jolie) and education (Malala Yousafzai).

Unicef ambassadors include the singer Katy Perry and the tennis player Serena Williams.


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