WHO rescinds Robert Mugabe’s goodwill ambassador status

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe had his status as a goodwill ambassador rescinded by the World Health Organization after Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus conferred with health organizations about his history of human rights violations.Photo by Monika Graff/UPI

Oct. 22 (UPI) — The World Health Organization rescinded Zimbabwe’s controversial longtime President Robert Mugabe‘s status as a goodwill ambassador on Sunday.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued a statementannouncing the removal of Mugabe’s goodwill ambassador status after he conferred with international health groups.

“Over the last few days, I have reflected on my appointment of H.E. President Robert Mugabe as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for NCDs in Africa,” Tedros said. “As a result I have decided to rescind the appointment.”

Mugabe’s appointment on Thursday drew criticism from activists including Tom Frieden, the president of Resolve to Save Lives, who said Mugabe is “the opposite of what is needed from political leadership in public health.”

A coalition of 28 health groups spoke with Tedros about their concerns with Mugabe’s appointment including his history of advocating for tobacco and his “long track record” of human rights violations.

Tedros said he made the decision to rescind Mugabe’s status after listening to concerns and consulting with Zimbabwe’s government.

“It is my aim to build a worldwide movement for global health. This movement must work for everyone and include everyone,” he said. “For me, what is important is to build political leadership and create unity around bringing health to all, based on WHO’s core values.”

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