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Secret Vote on WHO Bodes Ill for Future of Global Health

Author: Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health
May 23, 2016


With the future of global health more uncertain than it has been in more than a decade, the first hats have been tossed into the election ring for top leadership at the World Health Organization. It is a dire time for WHO, which has seen its financial and political support erode steadily for the last decade, its credibility suffering mightily over its slow and sloppy response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

Everybody is talking about how best to reform the WHO, arguably the best vehicle for coordinating the ever-changing global health agenda. But a new election process using secret ballots for appointing the next director-general is hardly a promising start.

The director-general (DG) vote will take place at the World Health Assembly in May 2017 in an unprecedented, one-country-one-vote procedure conducted via secret ballots. Some are concerned this new, secretive process is unlikely to produce a leader who can restore the WHO’s position of global leadership, its respect, authority and financing.

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