What a challenge to be the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the time of the coronavirus.
The entire planet hanging on your every word, addressing daily press conferences at the headquarters in Geneva to detail an ever-increasing number of cases in an ever-increasing number of countries.
This is the lot of Ethiopian Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the first African head of the WHO, who took office two-and-a-half years ago promising to reform the organization and to tackle the illnesses that kill millions each year: malaria, measles, childhood pneumonia, or HIV/Aids.
And yet, while the WHO is undoubtedly working hard on those illnesses, Dr. Tedros’ time in office has been dominated first by Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and now by Covid-19.
Both have been declared Public Health Emergencies of International Concern, or PHEICs.
‘Charming and unassuming’
That means they require 24-hour monitoring, deployment of medical staff, equipment and medicines, daily discussions with affected countries and countries who might be affected, and of course, a steady stream of reliable information for an anxious world desperate for immediate answers.
“Charming” and “unassuming” are some of the words those who know him use to describe the 55-year-old.