The Zimbabwean government has reportedly said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) was the "biggest loser" following its decision to revoke the appointment of President Robert Mugabe as its Goodwill Ambassador for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Africa.
The appointment sparked a chorus of criticism from human rights groups as well as from the British government, which described the move as "surprising and disappointing" given Zimbabwe's rights record, as well as given US and European Union sanctions against Mugabe.
"As a result, I have made a decision to rescind the appointment", Mr. Tedros said.
Hillel Neuer, the executive director of United Nations Watch and a human rights activist wrote: "Shame on you, @WHO, for legitimizing brutal tyrant Mugabe, who devastated the health system of Zimbabwe & flies overseas for his health care". In his complaint, Mkwanazi cited cases where Mugabe threatened the judiciary and activists and said he personally owns the security forces. But in 2008, the charity Physicians for Human Rights released a report documenting failures in Zimbabwe's health system, saying Mugabe's policies had led to a man-made crisis.
As the Guardian reported, the Zimbabwean leader was head of the African Union when it endorsed Tedros's appointment as director-general of World Health Organization earlier this year, leading some in the worldwide medical community to believe he was returning the favor.
Mugabe, who has outlived the average life expectancy in his country by 30 years, goes to Singapore for medical treatment.
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"If anything, it is World Health Organization that has benefited tremendously from its decision in nominating President Mugabe", said Foreign Minister Walter Mzembi, according to South Africa's Independent Online.
The former Ethiopian health and foreign minister, who was elected last May as WHO's first African director-general, added: "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".
Information for this article was contributed by staff members of The Associated Press.
Like Neuer, many found it odd that a man accused of destroying Zimbabwe's health care system is now speaking out on global health issues. "This movement must work for everyone and include everyone", he said. "Robert Mugabe fails in every way to represent the values World Health Organization should stand for".
Dr. Tedros said he is firmly committed to ensuring that "everyone has access to the healthcare they need".
We must build bridges that bring us together and help us move forward in our quest to achieve universal health coverage. I hear your concerns.