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Why should Mugabe be the WHO goodwill ambassador? critics question

Why should Mugabe be the WHO goodwill ambassador? critics question

Zimbabwe

The World Health Organisation is facing a heap of backlash after appointing 93-year-old Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as its goodwill ambassador to “influence his peers”.

The first African director-general of the global health body, Ethiopian Tedros Ghebreyesus announced the appointment of the frail president on Friday at a conference on non-communicable diseases in Uruguay.

“Today I am also honoured to announce that President Mugabe has agreed to serve as a goodwill ambassador on NCDs for Africa to influence his peers in his region to prioritize NCDs,” he said with praises for Zimbabwe.

This generated the backlash from Mugabe’s critics including human rights organisations and health bodies who described the president of 30 years as unfit for such a role due to the history of human rights violations under his leadership.

The Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth tweeted: “Mugabe corruption decimates Zimbabwe health care (he travels abroad for care) but @WHO’s Tedros names him ambassador.”

This contravenes the statement of Tedros who said Zimbabwe is a country that “places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide health care to all”.

Mugabe has travelled to Singapore multiple times this year for medical treatment generating so much controversy in the southern African country.

Civil society group NCD Alliance said in a statement on Friday that it rejects Mugabe as an ambassador for non-communicable diseases.

“While we support WHO & Dr Tedros in their ambition to drive the NCD agenda forward, we are unable to recognise President Mugabe as a chamipion for NCDs,” said the NCD advocacy group.

The WHO has not responded to the outrage caused by the appointment which has been condemned by Zimbabwean individuals, organisations and international bodies.

Below are some reactions to Mugabe’s WHO goodwill ambassador appointment.

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