The World Health Organization has come under fire for appointing Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador, a move that critics have described as outrageous and baffling. The public health agency praised Zimbabwe for its commitment to public health earlier this week, with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus lauding it as a “country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the center of its policies to provide health care to all.” Human rights groups and health organizations have since slammed the appointment, questioning why a leader known for receiving medical treatment abroad would be chosen for the role. Two dozen international health organizations released a joint statement demanding the agency rethink its decision in light of Mugabe’s “long track record of human rights violations.” Ireland’s health minister, Simon Harris, called Mugabe’s appointment “offensive” and “bizarre,” while the head of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, compared the “tyrannical” leader’s appointment to satire. Zimbabwe’s government has yet to comment on the outcry over Mugabe’s new role.
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