Mugabe's WHO appointment: Britain breathes fire

Mugabe's WHO appointment: Britain breathes fire
Published: 21 October 2017 (655 Views)
The choice of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe as a World Health Organization (WHO) goodwill ambassador has been criticised by several organisations including the British government.

It described his selection as "surprising and disappointing" given his country's rights record, and warned it could overshadow the WHO's work.

The opposition in Zimbabwe and campaign groups also criticised the move.

But the WHO head praised Zimbabwe for its commitment to public health.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was a country that "places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide health care to all".

Mr Mugabe's appointment as a "goodwill ambassador" to help tackle non-communicable diseases has attracted a chorus of criticism.
The British government said it was all the more surprising given US and EU sanctions against him.

"We have registered our concerns" with the director general, a spokesman said.

"Although Mugabe will not have an executive role, his appointment risks overshadowing the work undertaken globally by the WHO on non-communicable diseases."

Zimbabwe's leader has been frequently taken to task over human rights abuses by the European Union and the US.

Critics say Zimbabwe's health care system has collapsed, with staff often going without pay while medicines are in short supply.

Dr Tedros, who is Ethiopian, is the first African to lead the WHO. He was elected in May with a mandate to tackle perceived politicisation in the organisation.
'Basic necessities lacking'

US-based campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it was an embarrassment to give the ambassador role to Mr Mugabe, because his "utter mismanagement of the economy has devastated health services".

HRW's Kenneth Roth said Mr Mugabe's appointment was a cause for concern because the president and some of his officials travel abroad for treatment.

"When you go to Zimbabwean hospitals, they lack the most basic necessities," he said.

Zimbabwe's main MDC opposition party also denounced the WHO move.

"The Zimbabwe health delivery system is in a shambolic state, it is an insult," spokesman Obert Gutu told AFP.

"Mugabe trashed our health delivery system... he allowed our public hospitals to collapse."

Other groups who have criticised Mr Mugabe's appointment include the Wellcome Trust, the NCD Alliance, UN Watch, the World Heart Federation and Action Against Smoking.

President Mugabe heard about his appointment while attending a conference held by the WHO, a UN agency, on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Montevideo, Uruguay.

He told delegates his country had adopted several strategies to combat the challenges presented by such diseases, which the WHO says kill about 40 million people a year and include cancers, respiratory diseases and diabetes.

"Zimbabwe has developed a national NCD policy, a palliative care policy, and has engaged United Nations agencies working in the country, to assist in the development of a cervical cancer prevention and control strategy," Mr Mugabe was reported by the state-run Zimbabwe Herald newspaper as saying.

But the president admitted that Zimbabwe was similar to other developing countries in that it was "hamstrung by a lack of adequate resources for executing programmes aimed at reducing NCDs and other health conditions afflicting the people".

The UN has a bit of thing for goodwill ambassadors, especially famous ones.

Angelina Jolie, as ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency, was regularly pictured comforting displaced families in over-crowded camps.

Swiss tennis star Roger Federer visits aid projects in Africa for Unicef and plays charity matches to raise money.

Further back in time, film star and Unicef goodwill ambassador Audrey Hepburn visited disaster zones and graced gala dinners where her glittering presence was an encouragement to donors.

The publicity does attract support for relief efforts.

But it is hard to imagine 93-year-old Robert Mugabe fulfilling a similar remit.

Will he provide comfort in WHO field clinics in conflict zones? Would one of his suit jackets fetch a high price at auction? Would the presence of a man who is widely accused of human rights abuses encourage more $10,000-a-plate attendees at a gala ball?

Somehow it just does not seem likely, which begs the question, what exactly is Mr Mugabe going to do in his new role? The World Health Organization has not made this at all clear.

- BBC

Tags: Mugabe, WHO, Britain,
 0

You May Like These Videos

Comments

There are no comments.

Latest stories

Parly walk out: demonstration of childish confusion

by Nobleman Runyanga | 25 September 2018 | 98 Views

Kasukuwere granted $3,000 bail

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 134 Views

Pokello dates fan

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 146 Views

Prayers for Sibusiso Moyo

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 291 Views

Zimbabwe will be among Africa's best six economies in two years

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 161 Views

Mnangagwa looks to Theresa May meeting

by Xinhua | 25 September 2018 | 130 Views

RBZ boss' job is on the line

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 135 Views

Chamisa despises Mafia coloured politics

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 116 Views

NMB joins fight against cholera

by Agencies | 25 September 2018 | 83 Views

Accessing alarm system remotely enhances home or office security

by Agencies | 25 September 2018 | 72 Views

'I won't imitate Mugabe', Mnangagwa tells US media

by Sithabile Mafu | 25 September 2018 | 77 Views

Stop giving important tenders to petty criminals

by Stephen Jakes | 25 September 2018 | 87 Views

Chief Jahana's People Terrorised by Zanu PF

by Mqondisi Moyo | 25 September 2018 | 96 Views

Sanctions affect the man on the street sir

by Tafara Shumba | 25 September 2018 | 81 Views

ED receives hero's welcome at UNGA

by Elijah Chihota | 25 September 2018 | 122 Views

Mnangagwa's diary packed in New York

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 79 Views

Mugabe turns tables against potato firm

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 99 Views

Zanu-PF aims to woo youths

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 72 Views

Mnangagwa must cut loose bad police officers

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 94 Views

Big new UK immigration plan expected

by Staff Writer | 25 September 2018 | 81 Views

EFF calls for removal of Die Stem, apartheid statues

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 154 Views

Zimbabwe to purchase smaller Embraer aircraft

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 222 Views

Removal of Old Mutual shares begin after a 2 week suspension

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 157 Views

BREAKING: Kasukuwere arrested

by Staff rpeorter | 25 September 2018 | 277 Views

Mnangagwa revisits his nearly fatal ice cream poisoning

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 178 Views

Spike in jail escapes

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 138 Views

Mnangagwa's govt not yet ready to devolve power

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 122 Views

#Tajamuka leader freed on bail

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 115 Views

Why push Zimbabwe schools into gay agendas?

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 132 Views

Mnangagwa tells the world he is his own man

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 166 Views

Dembare dump blue strip

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 68 Views

Sangoma vanishes after patient's death

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 162 Views

6 die in kombi crash

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 109 Views

Used car imports surge 40%

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 133 Views

Zanu-PF councillors suspended

by Staff reporter | 25 September 2018 | 147 Views