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WHO appoints Chido Mpemba to its Social Connection Commission

WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus (L) and Chido Mpemba

Writes Reginald Tapfumanei

Chido Mpemba, who currently serves as the youngest diplomat in the African Union Chairperson’s Cabinet, has been appointed as a Commissioner and co-chair of the Social Connection Commission by the World Health Organization (WHO)

The Commission will have its Secretariat housed at the WHO headquarters in Geneva Switzerland, running under a three-year term on efforts to position mental health related to social isolation as a global political priority and to take the loneliness and social isolation solutions to scale, based on some challenges emanating from the effects of the Covid19 pandemic and as an emerging global issue.

In making the appointment, WHO stated that Mpemba was chosen in recognition of her leadership in confronting current global challenges.

The WHO Commission on Social Connection will make up a cohort of twelve renowned government and civil society leaders from diverse backgrounds recognized for their propensity to generate political and or public attention for this important issue.

Mpemba makes history as the youngest commissioner and chair to have been appointed by the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus. She will Co-chair the Commission alongside Vivek Murthy, who served as the 19th Surgeon General, under President Obama’s administration and currently serving as the 21st Surgeon General of the U.S. State Department.

Other Commissioners will include Dubravka Suica, Vice-President of the European Commission; Ayuko Kato, the Japanese Minister in charge of loneliness and isolation; Khalid Ait Taleb, the Morrocan Minister of health and social protection; Jakob Forssmed, Sweden’s Minister of social affairs and public health; Cleopa Mailu, Kenyan Permanent Representative to the UN; Ralph Regenvanu, Vanuatun Minister of Climate change and Environment; Haben Girma, a US disability rights advocate; Hina Jilan Pakistan elder and human rights lawyer and Karen Desalvo, US Chief health officer, Google.

Earlier this year, Mpemba was appointed as a Commissioner for the Climate Governance Commission chaired by the former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson. The Climate Governance Commission (CGC) aims to propose global governance solutions for urgent and effective climate action to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C or less.

Mpemba is currently in New York participating in the United Nations General Assembly at which the Climate Governance Report is due to be released.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende