Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Ge'ez: ቴዎድሮስ አድሓኖም ገብረኢየሱስ) (born 1965) is an Ethiopian academic, public health authority and politician who has served in the government of Ethiopia as Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2012. Previously he was Minister of Health from 2005 to 2012.
Tedros joined the Ministry of Health in 1986, after graduating from the University of Asmara. An internationally recognized malaria researcher, as Minister of Health, Tedros received praise for a number of innovative and system-wide health reforms that substantially improved access to health services and key outcomes. Amongst them were hiring and training roughly 40,000 female health extension workers, cutting infant mortality from 123 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2006 to 88 in 2011, and increasing the hiring of health cadres including medical doctors and midwives. In July 2009, he was elected Board Chair of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for a 2-year term.
In November 2012, Tedros was appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. In January 2016 the twenty Sixth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union has endorsed his candidature for the next election of the Director General of the World Health Organisation as a sole African candidate.
Early life and education
Tedros was born in 1965 in Asmara. As a child, he recalls being "fully cognisant of the needless suffering and deaths" caused by malaria. In 1986 he received his Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Biology from the University of Asmara, and joined the Ministry of Health of the Derg as a junior public health expert.
After the fall of Mengistu Haile Mariam, Tedros returned to university to pursue a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Immunology of Infectious Diseases from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. He subsequently received a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Community Health from the University of Nottingham in 2000, with his doctoral dissertation being "The effects of dams on malaria transmission in Tigray Region, northern Ethiopia, and appropriate control measures"
Head of the Tigray Regional Health Bureau
In 2001, Tedros was appointed head of the Tigray Regional Health Bureau. As head of the bureau, Tedros was credited with making a 22.3% reduction in AIDS prevalence in the region, and a 68.5% reduction in meningitis cases. He oversaw a campaign to improve ICT access that installed computers and internet connectivity to most of the region's hospitals and clinics, whereas they had not been connected before. Health care staffing was increased by 50%. Immunization for measles was raised to 98% of all children and total immunisation for all children under 12 months was raised to 74%.
The percentage of government funding for the Tigray Regional Health Bureau was increased to 65%, with foreign donors' percentage falling to 35%. Overall, 68.5% of the population was provided with health care services within 10 km.
State Minister for Health
In late 2003 he was appointed a State Minister (deputy minister) for Health and served for just over a year. It was during this time he started crafting his ambitious health reform agenda.
Minister of Health
Tedros was appointed Minister of Health in October 2005 by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Despite the many challenges faced by the health ministry in terms of poverty, poor infrastructure, and a declining global economic situation, progress in health indicators was considered "impressive" in Ethiopia. During the period 2005-2008, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health built 4,000 health centres, trained and deployed more than 30,000 health extension workers, and developed a new cadre of hospital management professionals. Furthermore, in 2010, Ethiopia was chosen by the US State Department as one of the US Global Health Initiative Plus countries, where the US will support innovative global health efforts.
Upon assuming office in 2005, Tedros inherited a ministry with a strong vision but little capability to meet that vision. The Ministry was somewhat beholden to a donor community that was focused on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and malaria programs when Tedros first assumed his leadership position with a diagonal, systems-based reform agenda. With little economic surplus, the country lacked capacity to build its own health systems, and much of the Ethiopian human resources for health had fled the country- for example, there are more Ethiopian doctors in the Chicago metropolitan area than in Ethiopia. Tedros designed the health workforce "flooding" reform strategy that has resulted in the training and deployment of thousands of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory technologists and health officers. He is particularly recognized for his innovative efforts that improve the working environment and motivation of medica doctors.
As Minister of Health, Tedros was able to form a close relationship with most global health key players including former American president Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation . This ground for the Clinton -Ministry of Health Partnership was built on engagement of equal partners. Tedros brought to the partnership the leadership to sustain focus on the selected agenda, the political clout to facilitate enabling legislation as needed, and first-hand knowledge of what was needed. President Clinton and the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI) brought to the partnership a commitment to assist Tedros’ priorities and their network, which provided sources money, expertise, and credibility. As a result, Tedros was able to restructure and reform the Ministry in order to better meet its goals.
Global Health Initiatives
During his time as Minister of Health of Ethiopia Tedros has been very active in global health initiatives and left a print of his influence in the wider area of the global health architecture. Ethiopia was the first country to sign compact with the International Health Partnership. He has served as Chair of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (2007-2009), Programme Coordinating Board of UNAIDS (2009-2010) and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (2009-2011) and Co-Chair of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (2005-2009). He also served as member of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) Board as well as the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and the Stop TB Partnership Coordinating Board. He was also member of several academic and global health think tanks including the Aspen Institute and Harvard School of Public Health ]. He has also served as vice-president of the 60th World Health Assembly that was held on 14-23 May 2007.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and its reform
Tedros was elected as Board Chair of the Global Fund in July 2009 for a two years term. In a profile published in April 2010, the Lancet reported that Tedros was “a household name at the Global Fund Secretariat” before his election as Board Chair where his leadership was regularly cited at the Global Fund that resulted in Ethiopia to be named as an exemplary high-performing country.
In his acceptance speech he said ’The honor of this overwhelming vote of support belongs to my country, Ethiopia, which I am very privileged to represent. I am deeply humbled by this election and recognize well the weight of the responsibilities that come with it. The Global Fund faces big challenges ahead. But I am also optimistic about the great opportunities we now have for ensuring that this unique and innovative organization continues to be a success over the coming years”.
During his tenure Dr Tedros has guided the Global Fund to address significant challenges and to make important decisions that has led to the development of a comprehensive reform agenda and a more efficient and effective Global Fund. The Board has acknowledged his outstanding leadership role in its decision point at the end of his tenure saying " He has served the Global Fund with high degree of commitment and Passion. He has led with commitment and determination a comprhensive reform agenda".
Millennium Development Goals
Ethiopia has been noted by the UN as one of the "success stories" in terms of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Three of the eight MDGs, goals four through six, deal directly with health:
- Reducing child mortality rates,
- Improving maternal health,
- Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
Maternal and Child Health
The rate of child deaths fell by 30 percent between 2005 and 2011. Infant mortality decreased by 23 percent, from 77 to 59 deaths per 1,000 births, while under-five mortality decreased by 28 percent, from 123 to 88 per 1,000 births. The number of expectant mothers who delivered with the help of a skilled provider rose from 6 percent in 2005 to 10 percent in 2011, according to the 2011 Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey.
During Tedros' tenure TB prevention and treatment services were included as one of the packages of the Health Extension Workers which has resulted in impressive improvement of performance and the achievement of the TB MDG targets well ahead of the target time.
Deaths from malaria fell by more than 50% from 2005-2007. The rate of new malaria admittances fell 54% in the country over the same period, while the number of childhood malaria cases reported at clinics fell by 60%. The Health Ministry conducted the distribution of 20.5 million insecticide-treated bed nets to protect over 10 million families in malaria-prone areas between 2005 and 2008.
Under Tedros, the Ministry of Health was able to turn around Ethiopia’s record of the highest number of new HIV infections in Africa, taking the number down dramatically. The prevalence was reduced from its double digit record to 4.2 in cities and 0.6 in rural areas. According to the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office (HAPCO) said the rate of HIV infection in Ethiopia has declined by 90% between 2002 and 2012, while the rate AIDS-related death has dropped by 53%. The number of people starting HIV treatment increased more than 150-fold during 2005-2008.
The decline in the infection rate has been attributed to the concerted effort of the Ministry of Health in providing medicines and organizing various awareness raising programs. The office has managed to integrate the people in HIV prevention and control activities. The wide range of media campaigns to inform the public about the disease has definitely paid off as it has helped achieve behavioral change. Prevention measures like the use of condoms have shot up starkly with increased awareness on the disease and advertising urging safe sex practices and condom use. The government’s collaboration with local and international governmental and nongovernmental organizations has also positively influenced access to HIV/AIDS related service centers.
Under Tedros' tenure, the unmet need for family planning in Ethiopia has declined, and the contraceptive prevalence rate has doubled in 5 years. Based on the current trends, contraceptive prevalence rates will reach 65% by 2015 by reaching additional 6.2 million women and adolescent girls. Recognising that early childrearing is a major factor in infant mortality, the Ministry of Health is targeting its efforts on adolescent girls (15 to 19 years) who have the highest unmet need for family planning.
Minister of Foreign Affairs
The third financing for development conference (FfD3)
Tedros was instrumental in the successful outcome of the Conference which was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 13–16 July 2015 demonstrating his negotiation and consensus building skills. He played key role in saving the Forum from collapse by bringing polarized positions closer. The outcome document called Addis Ababa Action Agenda set policy actions by Member States, that draw upon all sources of finance, technology, innovation, trade and data in order to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Dr Tedros served as a member of the High Level Task Force for innovative financing for Health Systems chaired by former World Bank President and Prime Minister of UK, Gordon Brown.
Agenda 2063 of Africa Union
As Chair of the Executive Council of the AU in 2014, Dr. Tedros highlighted the need for a paradigm shift in Africa’s political and socio-economic governance and development in order to realize the continent’s long-term agendas. He emphasized the need for Africa to focus on issues of economic emancipation, peace and stability, the acceleration of rapid economic growth, governance and democratization. During his tenure, the AU adopted its First Ten Year Implementation Plan for Agenda 2063 – a roadmap for achieving a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable growth, which has placed health as its centerpiece. His leadership and skills in conflict resolution have also helped resolve regional disputes—such as the agreement between the Federal Government of Somalia and Jubaland Political Actors—which was critical to improving the delivery of health services and protecting the safety and security of Somali citizens.
Hidase Dam controversy
In May 2013, controversy intensified over the under-construction Hidase Dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz near Sudan as Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile for the dam's construction. By that time it was more than 22 percent complete, and the dam is expected to produce 6,000 megawatts, which will make it Africa’s largest hydroelectric power plant. The dam is expected to have a reservoir of around 70 billion cubic meters, which is scheduled to start filling in 2014. Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan established an International Panel of Experts to review and assess the study reports of the dam. The panel consists of 10 members; 6 from the three countries and 4 international in the fields of water resources and hydrologic modelling, dam engineering, socioeconomic, and environmental. The panel held its fourth meeting in Addis Ababa in November 2012. It reviewed documents about the environmental impact of the dam and visited the dam site. The panel submitted its preliminary report to the respective governments at the end of May 2013. Although the full report has not been made public, and will not be until it is reviewed by the governments, Egypt and Ethiopia both released details. The Ethiopian government stated that, according to the report, the dam meets international standards and will be beneficial to Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. According to Egyptian government, the report found that the dimensions and size of the dam should be changed.
On 3 June 2013 while discussing the International Panel of Experts report with President Mohammad Morsi, Egyptian political leaders suggested methods to destroy the dam, including support for anti-government rebels. The discussion was televised live without those present at meeting aware. Ethiopia requested that the Egyptian Ambassador explain the meeting. Morsi's top aide apologized for the "unintended embarrassment" and his cabinet released a statement promoting "“good neighborliness, mutual respect and the pursuit of joint interests without either party harming the other.” Morsi reportedly believes that is better to engage Ethiopia rather than attempt to force them. However, on 10 June 2013, he said that "all options are open" because "Egypt's water security cannot be violated at all," clarifying that he was "not calling for war," but that he would not allow Egypt's water supply to be endangered. Tedros said the dam will be used exclusively for power generation and is being constructed in a way that takes Egypt’s water security concerns into account. On 18 June, Tedros and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr issued a joint statement reiterating "their commitment to strengthen their bilateral relations and coordinate their efforts to reach an understanding regarding all outstanding issues between both countries in a manner of trust and openness building on the positive developments of their relations". Both agreed to review the report of the International Panel of Experts and implement their recommendations, working to defuse the tensions and ease the crisis.
Awards and Publications
A globally recognized malaria researcher, Dr. Tedros has co-authored numerous articles on this subject and other global health issues in prominent scientific publications, including Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology, The Lancet, Nature and Parasitologia and the British Medical Journal. His seminal work earned him the distinction of Young Investigator of the Year from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and in 2003 he received the Young Public Health Researcher Award from the Ethiopian Public Health Association. In 2011, Dr. Tedros became the first non-American recipient of the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Humanitarian Award conferred by the US National Foundation of Infectious Diseases. In March 2012, he received the prestigious Honorary Fellowship from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Stanley T. Woodward Lectureship, Yale University (2012). He also received the Women Deliver Award for Perseverance for his tireless efforts to improve the lives of women and girls at the fourth Women Deliver Conference on May 19, 2016.
One of 50 people who will change the world in 2012
Dr Tedros was named as one of the 50 people who will change the world in 2012 by the UK Wired Magazine. The Magazine wrote " Dr Tedros has used innovative techniques to save the lives of millions of Ethiopians. Rather than building expensive hospitals, he has set up programmes to train 35,000 health workers. The workers then go on to provide care in nearly every community across Ethiopia -- especially for women and children, who are often the most vulnerable and underserved. As a result of this, women have access to family planning and are now able to plan the timing and spacing of their children. And children now receive life-saving vaccines and treatment for deadly illnesses such as pneumonia, malaria and diarrhoea. In five years, his work has reduced the death rate of Ethiopian children under five by 28 per cent. Does it get more inspiring than that?"
One of the 100 most influential Africans for 2015
The New African Magazine, a best selling pan African magazine published in the UK listed Tedros as one of the 100 most influential Africans for 2015 in the category of politics and public service. The magazine named him as " the trailblazer" and signified his reformist agenda as Minister of Health of Ethiopia where he transformed the health sector of the country through massive deployment of health extension workers which has resulted in massive gains. The magazine said Tedros put people at the center of his policies again as Minister of Foreign Affairs and mentioned his massive social media followers. His role as a key player in Ethiopia′s strategic regional interventions and mediation in Sudan and Somalia also contributed for his naming as one of Africa′s influential people for 2015.
Candidacy for the Director General of WHO
Dr Tedros has officially announced his candidacy for the post of the Director General of the World Health Organisation on May 24, 2016 in the margins of the 69th World Health Assembly as the sole African candidate with endorsement from African Union and Ministers of Health of the continent. His official launch of candidacy in Geneva was attended by the chairperson of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Rwanda and Kenya and Ministers of Health of African countries represented by the Algerian Health Minister Abdelmalek Boudiaf. During the launch it was stressed that the nomination of Dr Tedros was based on merit and his prolific national and global credentials. His campaign tagline is 'Together for a Healthier World' and he also launched a campaign website at www.drtedros.com. He argued that he will bring a fresh perspective to the WHO as he has lived with the most pressing conditions of our time. His launch has got wide media coverage and support.
Dr. Tedros is married and has five children.