BERLIN, Sept 21 (Reuters) – German Health Minister Jens Spahn backed a second term for World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and called on other countries to support the former Ethiopian health minister ahead of a deadline this week.
“We invite partner countries to join us nominating DG (Director General) Tedros,” Spahn told Reuters. The support is significant as Germany is a major financial backer of the WHO.
Last week, sources told Reuters that Tedros looks set to run unopposed for a second term at the helm of the WHO as it tries to guide the world through its biggest health crisis in a century, even though he lacks the support of Ethiopia due to friction over the Tigray conflict.
He has steered the agency through several Ebola outbreaks as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, surviving savage criticism from the Trump administration for allegedly being “China-centric”.
Those criticisms were echoed in a Wall Street Journal editorial on Tuesday arguing against a second term.
“The White House is committing diplomatic malpractice by not working with allies and partners to back a credible alternative,” the newspaper wrote.
The WHO had no immediate comment on the issue.
While Tedros has not publicly acknowledged his plans to run again for a second five-year term, saying he was focusing on fighting the pandemic, four sources said he is the only known candidate. (Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Emma Thomasson and Keith Weir; Editing by Kirsti Knolle and Alison Williams)