WHO chief ignores call to resign by US govt. over funding issue


By Staff Report

World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has chosen not to take the bait and answer the calls of United States leaders, to resign from his post. Dr. Tedros said that he and his team have been working very hard in reforming the global regulatory arm and he will continue “changing the organization for good”.

In a virtual press briefing Wednesday evening, (April 22), the WHO chief has reiterated there are rules to follow on ending an office term in the organization.

“I don’t have anything more to comment on that but one thing I am sure of is we have been working very hard for the last three years – almost three years – reforming WHO,” said Dr. Tedros.

“We got many good ideas from WHO staff that are truly transforming our organisation and we work day and night and we will continue to work day and night. I will continue to work day and night because this is a blessed work and responsibility, saving lives and I will focus on that; changing this organisation for good,” he added.

Leadership at the WHO is decided by the agency’s Executive Board, composing of representatives from the member States by election, during a world health assembly. Dr. Tedros was elected Director General at the Seventieth World Health Assembly in May 2017 and took office on July 01, 2017.

“As Director General, [I am] also a living witness to appreciate the support that the US gives and provides. I hope the US believes that this is an important investment not just to help others but for the US to stay safe also. For the US to remain safe the investment in other countries is very important.”

Dr. Tedros hopes the freezing of funds will be reconsidered [by the US government]and the US will once again support WHO’s work and continue to save lives, saying the organisation appreciates and values the United States as its number one donor.

The call for Dr. Tedros resignation floated after the US President Donald Trump formally announced on April 14 that the United States will apply a 60 to 90-day pause on funding to the WHO, pending a formal investigation into the global health agency and its coronavirus response.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a press conference at the US State Department in Washington D.C. on April 22, said that the WHO, as regulatory arm for global health, has failed to make the necessary response to the coronavirus outbreak in China.

Mr. Pompeo has critised China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak among its population, including not reporting the outbreak until after the virus had spread to all of its provinces and silencing those who tried to speak out.

“The WHO, as a regulatory arm clearly failed during coronavirus pandemic… Openness and transparency is an ongoing requirement for the WHO as a regulatory arm to continue to enforce until today. This transparency is critical to saving lives today and in the future,” Secretary Pompeo said.

In its website, the US has provided roughly 15%, or $893 million of the WHO’s total funding over its current two year-budget period. About 81% of the WHO’s US$5.8 billion budget for this year and the next is funded from donors, including US$1 billion for emergencies.

Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme said, “We have a very, very difficult job to do, as many countries have around the world. I want to focus on that and I want to focus my teams on that and I don’t want to focus them on where their next pay cheque is coming from because quite frankly that’s not what they’re focused on.”

“We had one staff killed just two days ago and one of our other staff in a serious condition, transporting COVID-19 samples in Myanmar. I don’t think their families are that concerned about the overall funding situation in WHO,” Dr. Ryan said, pertaining to the recent attack on WHO workers in Myanmar.

The WHO-Myanmar health worker was injured and his driver killed when their United Nations-marked vehicle was ambushed at 5 p.m. on Monday, April 20, as they carried COVID-19 test samples in conflict-ridden Rakhine state.

The WHO vehicle was fired upon by unknown assailants and the driver U PyaeSone Win Maung, died while being treated at Minbya Hospital.

The injured man, U Aung Myo Oo, suffered wounds to his right hand. He received medical treatment after being transferred to Sittwe Hospital on Tuesday morning.

“We’re concerned about our friends and our colleagues in the front line who risk their lives every day, every single day to deliver lifesaving interventions to people around the world,” he added. (ham/RightsCorridor)