World Health Organization 'rethinks' appointment of Mugabe as goodwill ambassador after huge backlash

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World Health Organization 'rethinks' appointment of Mugabe as goodwill ambassador after huge backlash

But Tendai Biti, a former finance minister in Zimbabwe, said Mugabe's appointment showed the World Health Organization did not understand the country's political reality.

Mugabe's regime has been accused of & internationally sanctioned for a wide variety of human rights abuses & violations - and the Physicians for Human Rights group has previously reported that the health system in the country has "utterly collapsed" under Mugabe's government. "As a result I have chose to rescind the appointment", Tedros said.

The WHO leader faced criticism in the wake of the decision from the global community and public figures in Zimbabwe, where Mugabe has been in power for 37 years and the public health system is rife with problems.

The 93-year-old Mugabe, the world's oldest head of state, has always been criticized at home for going overseas for medical treatment as Zimbabwe's once-prosperous economy falls apart.

The main MDC opposition party said the appointment was "laughable".

Health and human rights leaders chimed in.

Health and human rights leaders chimed in, with Wellcome Trust director Dr Jeremy Farrar saying: 'The decision to appoint Robert Mugabe as a WHO goodwill ambassador is deeply disappointing and wrong. "Robert Mugabe fails in every way to represent the values World Health Organization should stand for".

Simon Harris, Ireland's health minister, added that the appointment was "offensive, bizarre".

However, the move has been condemned by human rights groups and worldwide bodies, which say Zimbabwe's healthcare system has collapsed under Mugabe's authoritarian regime.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he made a decision to rescind his appointment of Mugabe, 93, after listening to the flood of outrage and concerns voiced by worldwide leaders and health experts. He hailed Zimbabwe as "a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide healthcare to all".

Critics pointed out that most of non-communicable diseases, such as cancer and diabetes, can not be treated by Zimbabwe hospitals as they do not have cash to import drugs.

The groups said they had raised their concerns with Tedros on the sidelines of the conference, to no avail.

"Zimbabwe's government has not commented on Mugabe's appointment, but a state-run Zimbabwe Herald newspaper headline called it a "new feather" in the president's cap".

"Tedros has frequently talked of his determination to build a global movement to promote high-level political leadership for health", he said by e-mail.

Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.

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