Tedros Warms Up To Press In First Meeting, Sees Clear Mandate In “Landslide” Victory 24/05/2017 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 2 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)In his first meeting with the United Nations press corps the morning after his historic election as the next director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus began to unfold his vision for the organisation and fended off questions about the United States budget by saying WHO has to diversify its funding base. He also signaled a variety of possible issues to come such as increased assessments on governments, and consideration of the recommendations of a recent UN report on access to medicines. Tedros meets the UN press in Geneva today Tedros, as he is known, opened by echoing remarks from his acceptance speech last night (IPW, WHO, 23 May 2017). Tedros, who takes office on 1 July for five years, has put forward a five-point vision but so far has declined to elaborate substantially on it. In his comments to press today (recording of press briefing here, and transcript here), he said the decisive outcome of the election was clear that his platform has the support of member states, noting that his vision was not created by him but by his meetings with those member states and others. And he said his “landslide” victory (garnering 133 votes of a possible 185 or so in the secret ballot) give his office “legitimacy” and “confidence.” Tedros, who seemed at ease with the journalists, said his meetings with member states during the campaign showed him that universal health coverage has to be “tailored” to local needs and conditions of the countries. He said on emergency response, a rising focus of the UN health agency, that the program must be implemented with “urgency, and the WHO and the world “have to be prepared.” An external evaluation is needed, and some countries are thinking of holding simulations for preparedness. He mentioned the importance of reforming WHO, continuing program of outgoing administration and considering new ones if necessary. Tedros said the “mindset” of the organisation is what is important, “do we belong to the same vision?” With the Trump Administration yesterday releasing a draft budget that drastically cuts support for international organisations, two US press agencies called on by the American press officer of the WHO pressed Tedros on what he will do in response. The journalists did not ask about another funding issue for the WHO, which is the approaching end of its other major funding source: Gates Foundation funding for defeating polio. In answer, Tedros calmly said it will be necessary for WHO to look at its funding as part of a bigger picture, where it could come from other sources like the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, or GAVI, the vaccine alliance. “WHO is the leader of the global health agenda, so it’s money,” he said. Second, the agency needs to expand its donor base, so it is not like an “oil-dependent” nation goes into economic shock when its major source of funding dries up. He will focus on installing a “shock absorber,” he said. A model to follow is UNICEF, he said, which has been successful in diversified fundraising. Third, he said he does not take the initial budget floated by the administration as the final word, as it must work its way through Congress. WHO needs to “communicate in the right way,” he said. Asked the same question again by another US journalist, he added that he plans to expand the fundraising activities in the WHO, both the number of staff and the skills of the staff. And he said assessed contributions assessed on member states will be asked to pay more and make them more flexible. On the WHO relationship to the pharmaceutical industry, he said one of the barriers is access to drugs, which should be a “very important component” of universal health coverage, which he repeatedly stated as his top priority. In fact, on UHC, he said if programs at WHO do not fit that goal, they may be axed. The solution is not just engaging with pharmaceutical industry there needs to be a comprehensive approach and also needs engagement with pharmaceutical as well as the recommendations of the “independent panel” referring to the United Nations High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines. WHO’s role in that assessment was not really strong, he said, it’s presence can be felt, and it can start with recommendations in that report which he didn’t detail. “We work for the people,” he said later, adding early in the briefing, “health is a rights issue.” But he will begin by listening again and more deeply to staff, member states, and partners before taking actions, he said. Image Credits: Catherine Saez Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related William New may be reached at email@example.com."Tedros Warms Up To Press In First Meeting, Sees Clear Mandate In “Landslide” Victory" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.