LONDON – WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is expected to be confirmed by member countries of the UN health agency on Tuesday for a second five-year term.
Given the ongoing difficulties in responding to the devastating coronavirus pandemic, no other candidate challenged Tedros for the post.
Tedros, a former government minister from Ethiopia, has led the World Health Organization throughout its management of the global response to COVID-19, and has withstood occasional scathing criticism for its numerous missteps. He is the first African to head the agency and the only director general not qualified as a doctor.
Under Tedros, the UN health agency failed to call countries below China for mistakes that WHO officials grumbled about Privatediscouraged mask wearing for months, initially saying the coronavirus is unlikely to mutate quickly. Scientists convened by the WHO to investigate the origins of the coronavirus in China said the critical probe was ” stalled ‘ last year, after issuing a report that even Tedros acknowledged prematurely ruled out the possibility of a laboratory leak.
“There have been some glitches, but Tedros has also been a firm voice throughout the pandemic, arguing for a just response,” said Javier Guzman, director of global health policy at the Center for Global Development in Washington.
He said despite reservations about Tedros’ leadership, some countries are unwilling to push for change.
“We are in the middle of the pandemic and there is some pressure for consistent leadership to see us through this difficult moment,” Guzman said.
Tedros has frequently scolded against rich countries for stockpiling the world’s limited supply of vaccines, and insisted on it drug are not doing enough to get their medicines to the poor. Amid the near-universal focus on Ukraine after the Russian invasion, Tedros slammed the global community for not doing enough to resolve crises elsewhere, including Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan, arguing that this may be because those suffering are not white.
But critics say Tedros has failed on some fundamental issues, like holding employees accountable afterwards accusations that dozens of WHO-managed outbreak workers sexually abused young women in Congo during an Ebola outbreak that began in 2018, in one of the biggest sex scandals in United Nations history. None of the senior WHO managers alarmed on the allegations of abuse and who have done little to stop the exploitation have been released.
In January, The Associated Press reported that staff at WHO’s Western Pacific office filed a complaint internal complaint Accusation of the regional director Dr. Takeshi Kasai of abusive, racist and other misconduct, undermining efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. In response, Tedros said an investigation into the allegations had been launched started and promised to act “with urgency”.
But last week, several WHO staffers wrote to the agency’s board, complaining that Kasai was “able to continue his unethical, abusive and racist behavior without any restrictions”. In an email to staff, Kasai denied the charges.
Public health expert Guzman said the WHO’s apparent culture of impunity was problematic.
“We need a stronger (WHO) director-general for the future where wrongdoing will not be tolerated,” he said, calling for sweeping reforms to hold the agency accountable.
As Tedros begins his second term, some experts have also raised concerns that WHO is failing in its primary role as a technical agency providing countries with science-based guidance.
dr David Tomlinson, a cardiologist who has campaigned for better protective equipment for health workers in the UK health system, says he is appalled by the WHO’s advice, particularly its reluctance to acknowledge that airborne COVID-19 is widespread. In July 2020, more than 230 scientists published a paper Appeal to the WHO to realize that the coronavirus was in the air; this later prompted the organization to do so to change some of his recommendations.
Tomlinson and others say Tedros should ensure the WHO’s top priority on future health emergencies is evaluating the science.
“They perpetuated untruths that ultimately led to the deaths of millions of people,” he said, citing the estimated 15 million people who have died during the pandemic. “We need an agency that isn’t afraid to tell the truth, but unfortunately we don’t have that.”
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https://www.local10.com/business/2022/05/24/who-chief-to-be-confirmed-for-2nd-term-after-no-opposition/ WHO chief is to be confirmed for the second term without objection