Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has long faced United States sanctions over his government’s human rights abuses. But the World Health Organization’s new chief is making the longtime African leader a “goodwill ambassador.”
With Mugabe on hand, WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus told a conference in Uruguay this week on non-communicable diseases that he’d agreed to be a “goodwill ambassador” on the issue.
Tedros, an Ethiopian who became WHO’s first African director-general this year, said Mugabe could use the role “to influence his peers in his region.”
A WHO spokeswoman confirmed the comments to The Associated Press on Friday.
Life expectancy in Zimbabwe dropped from 61 in 1985 to 44 in 2003, according to World Bank figures, largely down to the nation’s crumbling economy and widespread poverty. Life expectancy has since recovered – but is still not as high as it was in the mid-1980s