THE World Health Organization has rescinded the appointment of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as a "goodwill ambassador” after international outrage.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who made the appointment at a high-level meeting in Uruguay last week, said in a statement he had listened to those expressing concerns and reflected on the appointment of President Mugabe as the UN body's goodwill ambassador in the battle against chronic diseases in Africa.
Mr Mugabe, 93, has long been criticised at home for going overseas for medical treatment and for presiding over the collapse of his country's healthcare system.
The world's oldest head of state also faces US sanctions over his government's human rights abuses.
Last week, Mr Tedros praised Zimbabwe as "a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide healthcare to all”.
But in 2008, the charity Physicians for Human Rights released a report documenting failures in the southern African nation's health system, saying Mr Mugabe's policies had led to a man-made crisis where the "population's access to food, clean water, basic sanitation and health care” had been reversed dramatically.
Mr Mugabe's policies led directly to the shutting of hospitals and clinics, the closing of its medical school and the beatings of health workers, the report added.
- Samuel Osborne, The Independent