WHO backs down on Mugabe

Stuff reports:

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has been removed as a World Health Organisation (WHO) goodwill ambassador following outrage among donors and rights groups at his appointment.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who made the appointment at a high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Uruguay on Wednesday, said in a statement he had listened to those expressing concerns.

“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. As a result I have decided to rescind the appointment,” Tedros said in a statement posted on his Twitter account.

It says a lot about the judgement of the WHO DG that he ever made the appointment in the first place.

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

Tedros, a former Ethiopian official who became WHO’s first African director-general this year, said at the time Mugabe could use the role “to influence his peers in his region” on the issue. He described Zimbabwe as “a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies.” A WHO spokeswoman confirmed the comments to The Associated Press.

Let’s look at how Zimbabwe has done from 1990 to 2012 on health.

  • Child mortality rate from 7.4% to 9.0%
  • Infant mortality rate from 5.0% to 5.6%
  • Life expectancy dropped from 59.2 to 58.1 years

And this is when most countries are seeing huge improvements.

The southern African nation once was known as the region’s prosperous breadbasket. But in 2008, the charity Physicians for Human Rights released a report documenting failures in Zimbabwe’s health system, saying Mugabe’s policies had led to a man-made crisis.

“The government of Robert Mugabe presided over the dramatic reversal of its population’s access to food, clean water, basic sanitation and health care,” the group concluded. Mugabe’s policies led directly to “the shuttering of hospitals and clinics, the closing of its medical school and the beatings of health workers.”

So sad.

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