World Health Organisation rescinds appointing of Robert Mugabe as ‘goodwill ambassador’

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has rescinded the appointment of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as a “goodwill ambassador” following international outrage.

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 he had listened to those expressing concerns.

“Over the last few days, I have reflected on my appointment of HE President Robert Mugabe as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for NCDs in Africa. As a result I have decided to rescind the appointment,” Mr Tedros said in a statement.

 
He had previously said in a tweet he was “rethinking the approach in light of WHO values.”

Mr Mugabe, 93, has long been criticised at home for going overseas for medical treatment and for presiding over the collapse of his country’s healthcare system. 

The world’s oldest head of state also faces US sanctions over his government’s human rights abuses. 

Zimbabwe was once was known as the region’s prosperous breadbasket. But in 2008, the charity Physicians for Human Rights released a report documenting failures in the southern African nation’s health system, saying Mr Mugabe’s policies had led to a man-made crisis. 

“The government of Robert Mugabe presided over the dramatic reversal of its population’s access to food, clean water, basic sanitation and health care,” the group concluded. Mr Mugabe’s policies led directly to “the shuttering of hospitals and clinics, the closing of its medical school and the beatings of health workers,” it added.

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