WHO appoints African singer as Ambassador for arts and health

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The World Health Organization (WHO) is has appointed African singer, Pretty Yende as a Goodwill ambassador for Arts and Health. She was appointed alongside another internationally acclaimed artists, Renée Fleming. This prestigious announcement was made as part of WHO’s 75th Anniversary commemoration during the 76th World Health Assembly on 22 May 2023.

Pretty Yende, an extraordinary soprano known for her dazzling performances and  Renée Fleming, one of the most celebrated singers of our time, have been selected for their artistic achievement and advocacy for improved health outcomes through creative means. On 8 April 2023, Yende and Fleming performed for a special concert titled Healing Arts, dedicated to WHO’s 75th anniversary in Geneva, Switzerland.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said, “WHO is honoured to have Renée Fleming and Pretty Yende join as Goodwill Ambassadors for Arts and Health. Their unparalleled talent, dedication to the arts, and commitment to advancing health and well-being make them ideal ambassadors for this important cause. Their involvement will inspire individuals, communities and policy-makers to recognize and harness the transformative power of the arts in the pursuit of better health for all.”

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38 year-old South African, Pretty Yende is an exceptional singer and performer who  has captured audiences with her exquisite voice and stunning performances. As a soprano with a deep understanding of the power of music, she has demonstrated her commitment to using her talent to improve society. Yende’s passion for sharing the healing aspects of music and her dedication to social causes align perfectly with WHO’s Arts and Health agenda.


Yende said, “I am delighted to be appointed a WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Arts and Health. I hope to help establish a foundation for continued investigation into the arts being a fundamental ingredient in improving our physical, mental, and social well-being. I am grateful to WHO for paving the way for new research and providing their global platform to spread the word and generate research on the connection of arts and health.”

I look forward to all the possibilities to do essential work in my native South Africa and globally for a better and healthier tomorrow,” added Yende.


Fleming brings a wealth of expertise to her new role. She has captivated audiences worldwide with her luminous soprano voice and compelling artistry. Beyond her remarkable vocal talent, Fleming has been a fervent advocate for research at the intersection of the arts and health. Her presentations worldwide with scientists and practitioners, her leading role in major initiatives, and her association with WHO demonstrate her commitment to harnessing the transformative power of the arts to better society.

“I am elated that the preeminent global health agency is recognizing the powerful impact of the arts in health, and I am deeply honoured to be entrusted to share this message,” said Fleming. “Every day, advances in neuroscience and clinical research reveal more about the benefits of arts therapies, experiences, and education, with implications for well-being throughout the human life span. However, we have only just begun to realize the amazing potential of this work, and I look forward to expanding awareness and access as a WHO Goodwill Ambassador.”


The appointments of Yende and Fleming underscore the profound link between arts and health. Engagement in creative activities, such as music, art, and dance, positively impacts physical,  mental health, social well-being, and overall quality of life. Through their roles as Goodwill Ambassadors, Fleming and Yende will promote the integration of arts into health-care systems, advocate for access to creative arts therapies, and champion the importance of artistic expression in improving health outcomes globally.

Fleming and Yende join other distinguished WHO Goodwill Ambassadors such as Alisson and Natalia Becker, Brazilian professional footballer and his physician wife; Ivorian retired professional footballer Didier Drogba; Michael Bloomberg, entrepreneur and three-term Mayor of the City of New York; Cynthia Germanotta, President of Born This Way Foundation; former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown; and broadcaster and writer James Chau, among others.



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