Don’t Play Politics With Pandemics, Pleads WHO Director General

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

“We don’t hide information,” said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in an emotional rebuttal of US President Donald Trump’s recent attacks on him and the World Health Organization over the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was referring to Trump’s claims that WHO has been “China-centric” and failed to relay timely details about whether the mysterious coronavirus circulating in Wuhan could be transmitted person-to-person in early January. 

The usually soft-spoken Director General talked at length during Monday’s WHO press briefing about how the twin tragedies of poverty and disease that he grew up with in Africa had shaped his outlook. And he pleaded with governments to leave politics out of the pandemic. 

“I know what poverty means, I know what war means, I know what killer diseases mean…. This is a devil that everybody should fight.”

In fact, anyone familiar with WHO knows that collaboration with the US Centres for Disease Control is deeply rooted in the organization’s DNA. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank reported Tuesday that WHO had at least ten meetings with US officials in Beijing in January. 

And there are high-level US government secondees embedded in WHO’s senior leadership – two such positions already existed in late December, according to WHO. Another 15 US secondees were added later as WHO began to ramp up its emergency response.

Read more on Health Policy Watch.