Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization since 2017, is an Ethiopian public health researcher and official who was born on March 3, 1965. Tedros is the first African to hold the position, and the African Union has approved him. He was involved in the Ebola outbreak as well as the COVID-19 pandemic response.
He held two high-level roles in Ethiopia’s government before becoming Director-General: Minister of Health from 2005 to 2012 and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2012 to 2016. Tedros was named to Time’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2020.
Tedros was born to Adhanom Gebreyesus and Melashu Weldegabir in Asmara, then part of the Ethiopian Empire as the Eritrea Province, but now the capital of Eritrea following its separation in the 1990s. His ancestors were from the Enderta awrajja in Ethiopia’s Tigray Province.
Tedros began working for the Ethiopian Ministry of Health as a junior public health expert in 1986, after completing his first degree. Tedros was a member of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the most powerful organization in the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, which succeeded in deposing Mengistu Haile Mariam.
Tedros was appointed Minister of Health of Ethiopia by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in October 2005. Poverty, bad infrastructure, and a failing global economic condition confronted Ethiopia’s health ministry at the time; Ethiopia employed fewer doctors than the number of Ethiopian doctors working in the Chicago metropolitan area.
Tedros was elected for a two-year term as Board Chair of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria in July 2009. Tedros was “a household name at the Global Fund Secretariat” before his election as Board Chair, according to a profile published in April 2010 in The Lancet, where his leadership was regularly mentioned at the Global Fund, resulting in Ethiopia being named as an example high-performing country.
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