On May 23, 2017, the World Health Assembly elected Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as the next Director-General of the World Health Organization. As he prepares to begin his five-year term on July 1, TB Alliance President and C.E.O. Dr. Mel Spigelman issued the following open letter of congratulations.
Dear Dr. Tedros,
On behalf of the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance), congratulations on your well-deserved election as Director-General of the World Health Organization. Your experiences offer a unique perspective that will help to sharpen the Organization as it confronts the many public health challenges facing the world.
As you know all too well, one of those challenges is tuberculosis, the greatest single infectious disease killer in the world today. With significant progress over the past decade or so, we finally stand on the brink of being able to totally transform the treatment of this ancient scourge. This is especially true in the most serious forms of drug-resistant TB, wherein we hope in the very near future to turn the treatment of extensively drug-resistant TB from an almost universally fatal disease to one that can be cured in the vast majority of patients with a relatively short course (6 months) of daily, all oral, affordable novel medications. As you know, however, such change requires tremendous support, certainly from a financial perspective, but equally important, from global, standard-setting bodies such as WHO.
Of course, to achieve our goals, TB, inclusive of drug-resistant TB, must be a global health priority. Similarly, TB is far and away the most common single cause of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a fact that has unfortunately not received the attention necessary in efforts to combat AMR globally. We look to your leadership to reinforce that necessity, both at WHO as well as at the national and international political levels including G20 and UN, where your voice will be essential to rally the world around the real opportunity to transform TB. Equally, we look to your leadership to motivate all countries to invest what is necessary to bring this scourge to an end. I would be more than happy to provide further information as might be helpful.
My best wishes for a highly successful and rewarding tenure as the next Director-General.
Mel Spigelman, M.D.
President and C.E.O.
Image by United States Mission Geneva - Flickr: World Health Organization Headquarters and Flag, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18609992