Published: Mon, October 23, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

World Health Organization boss 'rethinking' Mugabe goodwill ambassador post

World Health Organization boss 'rethinking' Mugabe goodwill ambassador post

"Although President Mugabe will not have an executive role, his appointment risks overshadowing the work undertaken globally by the World Health Organization on Non-Communicable Diseases", the spokesperson added.

A spokesman said the United Nations agency's decision was "surprising and disappointing" and risked "overshadowing work undertaken globally by the WHO".

In 2008 the charitable group Physicians for Human Rights issued a damning indictment of Mugabe's dictatorial and repressive regime, saying the mounting health care crisis in the country was entirely manufactured by an inept and inefficient government.

Zimbabwean activist and human rights lawyer Doug Coltart said on Twitter that a "man who flies to Singapore for treatment because he has destroyed Zimbabwe's health sector is WHO's goodwill ambassador".

The United States, which has imposed sanctions on Mugabe for alleged human rights violations, said it was "disappointed".

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But activists inside the country said it was "absurd" to give the role to Mugabe, who has been accused of ruining his country's health system and regularly flies overseas for his own medical treatment.

There is one doctor for every 100,000 patients in the country, as health workers leave the country in search of better opportunities, said Biti.

Outside Zimbabwe, many World Health Organization member-states and rights groups criticised Mugabe's appointment.

Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based group UN Watch, described Mugabe's appointment as "sickening".

"The whole world knows what Mugabe has done on the health delivery of this once great country".

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

"Zimbabwe's government has not commented on Mugabe's appointment, but a state-run Zimbabwe Herald newspaper headline called it a "new feather" in the president's cap".

But Tedros said in a statement that he had listened to those expressing concerns and heard the "different issues" raised.

Twenty-six health bodies from around the world, including the World Heart Federation, Action Against Smoking and Cancer Research UK, released a joint statement condemning Mugabe's new role.

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