Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has been removed as a WHO goodwill ambassador, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Sunday following an 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 that 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 @DrTedros.
Tedros, who took charge of WHO in July, said he had “listened carefully” to those who condemned the decision and spoken to the Harare government.
“We have concluded that this decision is in the best interests of the World Health Organization.”
Tedros had announced the appointment earlier this week during a speech in Uruguay. But activists, public health experts and key WHO donors like Britain, Canada and the United States swiftly denounced any prospective role for Mugabe, saying Zimbabwe’s healthcare system has collapsed under his 37 years of authoritarian rule.