South Africa 22.10.2017 03:56 pm

WHO rescinds Mugabe goodwill ambassador role

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (right). File photo: ANA

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (right). File photo: ANA

The government of Zimbabwe was also consulted and a decision was seen as best for the World Health Organisation.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has rescinded its appointment of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador.

In a statement on Sunday, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he had reflected on his appointment of Mugabe as the WHO goodwill ambassador for non-communicable diseases in Africa.

“I have listened carefully to all who have expressed their concerns and heard the different issues that they have raised. As a result I have decided to rescind the appointment. I have also consulted with the government of Zimbabwe and we have concluded that this decision is in the best interests of the World Health Organisation,” he said.

Ghebreyesus said he remained firmly committed to working with all countries and their leaders “to ensure that every one has access to the health care they need”.

“We must build bridges that bring us together and help us move forward in our quest to achieve universal health coverage. I thank everyone who has voiced their concerns and shared their thoughts,” he said.

The WHO head had previously praised Zimbabwe for its commitment to public health, a country which has seen its health and economic systems collapse under Mugabe’s leadership.

Following condemnation from world leaders, the WHO was forced to rescind Mugabe’s appointment.

In Zimbabwe, medicines are often in short supply, while the elite ‑ Mugabe included ‑ have to fly to other countries to access better health facilities. Over the years, health workers have always petitioned the government to improve their working conditions and salaries.

Doctors in the country have also been at loggerheads with their employers, going on strike several times after accusing government of failing to meet their concerns. The doctors accused the health and child care ministry of a “lipstick approach” to their issues, saying the health sector was “pregnant with a multitude of problems emanating from gross negligence and lack of will to implement logical decisions”.

Junior doctors want the government to review upwards on-call allowances to a minimum of US720 for the lowest paid doctor from the current US288.

Presenting the 2017 US4 billion national budget last December, former finance and economic development minister Patrick Chinamasa allocated US282 million to the health sector, down from the previous year of US331 million.

The Abuja Declaration states that governments should allocate a 15 percent vote to the health system, and Zimbabwe is a signatory to the declaration.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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