Ethiopia’s Cholera-Denying Candidate to Lead the World's Top Health Body Is Taking a Battering Online

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ethiopia, speaks at Chatham House. Photo by Chatham House via Wikipedia. CC BY 2.0

Thousands of Tweets, several open letters and a relentless online campaign have dogged Ethiopia's candidate for the World Health Organization Director-General position, Tedros Adahanom, as member states prepare to vote on May 23, 2017. But why do Ethiopians dislike him so much?

With support from the Ethiopian government, Mr. Adahanom has led a robust and elaborate campaign, making it through to the last round of candidates; though the overall sources of his campaign funds remain shrouded in secrecy.

While the election for the Director-General of the WHO is largely an unexciting, institutional affair, Ethiopians fierce online opposition has added an interesting sub-plot as some of Adahanom’s controversies come to light.

Their relentless campaign might also have prompted media to shed light on Adahanom’s controversies.

The New York Times for instance revealed that Adahanom covered up a cholera outbreak during his tenure as Ethiopia’s health minister.

A few days later, the Washington Post reported that Adahanom “didn’t like mentioning a certain disease”.

Lancet, a respected British medical journal published a short, sharp letter alleging Adahanom’s indifference towards deals struck by the Ethiopian authorities with Japanese and British tobacco companies. In the letter, Frank Ashall of the Africa Tobacco-Free Initiative said:

Given the aforesaid issues, I believe that Tedros is not the right candidate that WHO needs to take it forward.

Adahanom has accused his fellow candidate Dr. David Nabarro of an imperialistic attitude but has not refuted any of the claims that have made his candidacy controversial.

Meanwhile, in the final few days of the campaign, Adahanom's opponents have been reinforced.

An Olympic medalist, Feyisa Lelisa, who was exiled after he defiantly protested against the Ethiopian government at the Rio Olympics asked Adahanom to drop out of the race and apologize to the people of Ethiopia for his role in human rights abuses and covering up cholera outbreaks as Ethiopia’s minister of health. Lelisa made the request in an Op-Ed for Al-Jazeera.

Reeyot Alemu, an award-winning journalist wrote an open letter protesting Adahanom’s candidacy to the World Health Assembly which is set to meet on May 22 in Geneva, Switzerland.

She wrote:

The reason why I am writing to you today is not to express self-pity. It is because I strongly believe that the World Health Organization (WHO), an important global institution, is on the verge of falling into the abyss of scandal. I fear that WHO’s reputation will be tarnished and credibility questioned if it elects Dr. Tedros Adhanom. The fact that Dr. Adhanom, one of the top human rights violators making life miserable to the people of Ethiopia, has managed to be in the last three candidates, bidding to take over the position of Director-General, is very troubling and alarming.

Yet another prominent opposition politician, Habtamu Ayalew, who was banned from leaving Ethiopia for medical treatment said:

I cannot imagine a person who refused treatment to a victim of torture seeks to run the global health institution

Adahanom’s team have fought back, however, arguing it is Africa’s turn to lead WHO:


  • Gizau smith

    This guy was exceptional as Minister of Health in Ethiopia.
    The opposition is from bitter US based Ethiopian diaspora people, bicha.

    • Please bring them to justice

      Please know Sir, Dr Tedros Adhanom is a war criminal!! Dr Tedros Adhanom was supposed to stand in front of international war criminal court!! Please read and pass to others in social media this article I found about his crime from eye witness account from world renown international newspaper

    • Tona Bayou

      I’m a medical doctor in Ethiopia. Except for government cadres and spies, he is known in Ethiopia for oppressing health professionals of all sorts. So, your claim above is very superficial.

    • Nega

      DR. TEDROS CAN BE THE BEST CANDIDATE FOR WHO. The Ethioian Diaspora who are motivated by dirty politics are making strong campaign of vilification him. All they say has not truth at all.

      • Tona Bayou

        Nega, WHO is not a filthy organization like woyane junta, which Dr Tewodros has been serving for. He doesn’t deserve even candidacy.

    • Thomas

      The ISIS of East Africa aka TPLF, track record is out there for any one to see. Hence the electing this butcher will only tarnish WHO’s Image. As for Ethiopian we got nothing more left to lost, we will fight until the end.

    • Your words are mixed up – you should have said that Dr Tedros Adhanom was “exceptionally unethical” as MoH in Ethiopia. He deliberately neglected cholera epidemics, and there are published scientific investigations that show this. He neglected tobacco deals, he supported ungodly human rights abuse of poor Ethiopians by involving health extension workers in government oppression, denying people of food aid and proper care. Worse still, he was key politburo official of a group that was listed as a terrorist organization- Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which continues to this day to oppress, torture, jail and kill anyone who dare criticize its evil deeds. Shame for WHO and shame for humanity!

      • Daniel Adugna

        You seem to have a vindictive agenda following all day long any good article out of Ethiopia and spating shit all over it…
        If your allegations were true, he wouldn’t be elected with a landslide – you are not the only one who reads the news…
        Also in case you didnt notice, EPRDF is running a country not an NGO, there will always be people who are unhappy, but overall I belive we are moving in the right direction as a country and if election were today I will vote for them again. world needs to respect choice of the voters..

  • Gizau smith

    He is very very popular and respected inside Ethiopia.

  • Please bring them to justice

    Please UN officials don’t make another error!!! Your candidate Dr Tedros Adhanom is a war criminal!! Please check with your own UN Office of Human Right chief honorable Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Husseinan, and on his recent visit to Ethiopia, he challenged Dr Tedros Adhanom’s administration to be complaint with UN for Independent evaluation for the act of genocide. Dr Tedros Adhanom’s administration openly with pride has rejected U.N. and other offers to investigate months of deadly protests. Dr Tedros Adhanom was supposed to stand in front of international war criminal court!! He has fully participated in his country tribal party EPLF/ TPLF by giving order and partner for genocide the innocent people. Ethiopia remains under a state of emergency declared in October 2016 after hundreds were killed amid anti-government protests demanding wider political freedoms. Please, please read this article I found about his crime from the eye witness account from world renown international newspaper

    • This man is one of the eight brutal member of the politburo of the Tigrian minority which the eight are made horrible thibgs in Ethiopia like genocide, torching ,rape and secret killing. They are doing just now too. It is shame for the WHO to fall for it. Please disqulify this person just think the crimes were done in Europe.

      • Isaias

        Stop lying through your crooked teeth. All the accusations you mumbled are false and you know it. Specially the genocide and rape crap laughable. Truth is Whether like or not Gallant Woyane is changing Ethiopia for good once and for all, The old Ethiopia is gone. The new Ethiopia is here. Take it or leave it. Just don’t make Up unfounded stories.

  • Furgassa

    The writer named Endalk, known for his distortion of facts, is a seasoned ethnocentric, anti Tigre and tigreans who’s known to be the most pathological liar as he’s shown time and again in his irrational and unfairly bias editorials toward the god fearing people of Tigray people. His hating of Dr. Tedros Adhanom has merely has to do with the candidate’s ethnic background.

    • Please bring them to justice

      Please know Sir, Dr Tedros Adhanom is a war criminal!! Dr Tedros Adhanom was supposed to stand in front of international war criminal court!! Please read and pass to others in social media this article I found about his crime from eye witness account from world renown international newspaper

    • Furgesa you r lier your name is awalom halefom or atakilit why you wanted to pretend to be oromo man by changing your name frost of all banda Italian askarise tigree are the Enemy of Ethiopia

    • Furgesa tigree never fear of god and never have the love of mother land Ethiopia..the try to claim they are Ethiopians when there stomach full..if this people so called tigre creatures they have fear of god they will never be reason for the suffering of our people

  • Alem

    Quick questions needing quick answers.

    Why was Dr. Tedros unwilling to make public how much of his campaign funding is from his government and how much from “solidarity fund” from East African countries? That is troubling considering his party is steeped in corrupt practices and money laundering.

    Why was Dr. Tedros as Foreign Minister defending Saudi mass deportation of over 150,000 young maids following rape, torture, and cheating the women of their wages? Why were the women on returning to their homeland sent into a camp never to be heard of again?

  • Daniel Adugna

    Tewodros during his tenure as Minister of health rolled out ‘the health workers extension’ campaign which not only revolutionized health services to millions poor but also cleaned up a once rotten health ministry – which he did again with the ministry of foreign affairs. The millennium goals on health Ethiopia achieved and the home grown initiative Tewodros implemented didnt only save lives but is being replicated as good practice by fellow development countries. Which also makes him a very respected leader among his pears globally. People who know what it takes to drive results would know that it takes more than to blab on the internet to make change happen.

  • Dagnachew bedasa

    The comments forwarded by some diasporas only reflect the deep rooted heat that this people have for Tigray people. He is indeed a genius and respected person in Ethiopia.

  • Habtom

    Furgassa, You seem to be one with limited vocabulary.
    pathological liar

    You have not said any thing of substance.
    Please try again. This time tell us what you don’t agree with in the article. Be good.

  • Tedros adhanom he is incompetent unskilled to lead WHO ..even he can not effectively administer on health station in a village

  • Stop the evil person, let not the evil rule

    Dr. Adhanom is a biased person. He openly insults people and group of people. I remember in one instance when he ridiculed the Oromo people when he was a Health Minster. He is a true enemy of Oromo, Amhara , Sidama and the like. After all, he is from TPLF, the organisation of gang group, whose sole interest is to harm others. I think this should make him unfit for the position he is speculating to hold.

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