Portrait of David Nabarro

Election of the next WHO Director-General

Statement by David Nabarro on the election of Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as next Director-General of the World Health Organization

On the election day, 23rd May 2017, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was declared victor.

I congratulated Dr Tedros on his victory immediately after it was clear that he would win. When his victory had been declared I said: “It has been an honour and privilege to visit so many countries and to see some of the truly inspiring work going on to improve people’s health. It has been a tough yet rewarding campaign and while I am disappointed I urge everyone to unite behind the new Director General and his vision for the World Health Organization. Only by working together and sharing ideas can we improve the health of people everywhere. I am optimistic for the future under the leadership of Dr Tedros and wish him all the best for his new role”. Dr Sania Nishtar (the third candidate) spoke with me and we agreed we would seek to continue the good working relationship we have established in the campaign.

David Nabarro next to Sania Nishtar and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

In our different interactions the three of us reflected on the way in which this new-style all-member-state competition for the post of Director General has led to greater public airing of issues vital for people’s health and for the WHO.

During the campaign I engaged with many committed and effective people. I am better able to appreciate the interacting influences that determine the course of people’s lives and their health. I have three overall conclusions: First: There is an upsurge in collective effort, energy and enthusiasm around inter-sectoral action for the future of people’s health, and health equity, in many countries and within all regions. Second: there are major challenges for all concerned when trying to ensure that small and isolated populations in vulnerable locations can access the health care they need. Third: people, societies and economies face increasingly serious threats as a result of non-communicable diseases - including mental illness and addictive disorders: these need to be prevented through urgent all-of-society action.

The written text of my final statement is available on this website.

I am delighted with the organization, quality and energy of our campaign and the way in which momentum built up over time. I am grateful to my family, as well as friends and colleagues, for encouragement throughout the journey and for their critiques as we evolved.

I would like particularly to thank all who have made my campaign possible. I thank the UK Prime Minister for her wholehearted backing of the campaign, as well as Secretaries of State, Ministers and staff from the Department of Health, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development for providing consistent encouragement and support. I am grateful to members of the Campaign Team for their consistent good humour and dedicated hard work, as well as for facilitating whole-of-government support from the UK. I thank the hardworking representatives of the UK, and their staff, in High Commissions and Embassies all over the world.

I shall be modifying the contents of this website to reflect the end of the campaign.