In Brief

Robert Mugabe stripped of ‘goodwill ambassador’ post

The Zimbabwean leader had been appointed by the World Health Organisation last week

The World Health Organization has cancelled the appointment of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador, following international outcry at the decision.

Mugabe had been appointed by WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a meeting in Uruguay last week.

“At the time, Tedros praised Zimbabwe as ‘a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide health care to all’,” the ABC reports.

Governments, donors and human rights groups expressed outrage, arguing that Zimbabwe’s health care system had crumbled in recent years.

“Staff often go without pay, medicines are in short supply, and Mugabe, who has outlived the average life expectancy in his country by three decades, travels abroad for medical treatment,” the BBC says.

Several former and current WHO staff said they were “appalled” by the appointment, and many commentators suggested that the decision was politically influenced.

“Mugabe was head of the African Union when the bloc endorsed Tedros - a former health and foreign minister of Ethiopia - over other African candidates for the top post, without any real regional contest,” The Guardian reports.

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