Director of World Health Organisation meets with Glasgow Uni students and receives honorary degree

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus asked for student input on the upcoming strategy changes WHO plan to implement

The Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) visited Glasgow University last week to receive an honorary degree and to meet with master’s students about upcoming changes to strategy.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was recognised for his dedication to improving health for all global citizens and for challenging nations to raise their ambitions to boost global health.

In the afternoon before his ceremony, the director general gave Global Health, Global Mental Health, and Public Health MSc postgraduate students a chance to have an intimate meeting with him before the ceremony.

Dr Tedros spoke to students about the Pandemic Accord – a treaty negotiated by WHO that will unite the member states in pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

Much to the surprise and excitement of the master’s students, Dr Tedros announced he wanted to “pick their brains” and asked for advice.

He wanted to know what the students suggested he and the World Health Organisation do to spread awareness of the pandemic accord and how to get the member states on board.

Students spoke to Dr Tedros directly, suggesting approaches such as creating viral hashtags or using universities worldwide to get the attention of national governments.


The students present, many hoping to go on to work in the global health arena, found this opportunity to converse with Dr Tedros and have their opinions considered a very surreal and inspiring experience

Dr Tedros took note of students’ ideas, sometimes questioning them further for more information on their suggested plan, showing just how much he valued their input.

Elle, a Global Health student who attended the meeting, said: “The room was pretty shocked, to say the least. To have the director of the WHO ask your coursemates to weigh in on one of the most contentious political health issues of our time was both inspiring and nerve-wracking for sure!”

Another student said: “It was really cool to see how much he valued our ideas. It did give me a bit of imposter syndrome, but I left feeling extremely lucky to be at UofG.”

She added that it felt good to be recognised as valuable in such important discussions and that her education was worth something. She said: “Knowing that my suggestion could be implemented by the WHO is so exciting”.

The degree ceremony that followed was led by former prime minister, Gordon Brown. Dr Tedros received his honourary degree and gave a keynote speech and a Q&A session.

In his keynote speech, Dr Tedros praised the University of Glasgow for its rich heritage in science and medicine, adding that he was “deeply honoured and humbled, but also very proud” to be awarded the honorary degree. He also paid respects to Dima Almaj, a former UofG student and WHO employee who died in Gaza last year.

Dr Tedros is the first African to lead the World Health Organization. Before his work for the WHO, he was chair of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and Malaria, chair of the Rollback Malaria Partnership, and co-chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Board.

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