WHO Director Says Politicizing COVID19 Leads To ‘body bags,’ But He Was Accused Of Covering Up Epidemics In Ethiopia
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, was accused in 2017 of “covering up three cholera epidemics in his home country, Ethiopia, when he was health minister,” and now his overt support of China – from where the coronavirus pandemic emerged – is forcing the Trump administration to reassess whether to pull U.S. funding from the organization.
At the time of the cholera outbreaks in Ethiopia, the New York Times published a damning report suggesting officials were extremely concerned about his future role as Director General.
Just recently, Dr. Tedros and his organization have come under fire by President Donald Trump. On Tuesday, he accused the WHO of being “China-centric” amid the coronavirus pandemic. Trump told reporters at the White House during his daily press briefing that he was reassessing U.S. funding to the organization. For example, the U.S. has provided the agency with $893 million during the WHO’s current two-year funding period. According to reports, that includes about $236 million in dues.
“They’ve been wrong about a lot of things,” Trump said. “We’re going to put a hold on money to the WHO. We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it.”
In response, Dr. Tedros said that politicizing the coronavirus will invite more “body bags.” The President has indicated that he’s strongly considering pausing funding for the WHO, which misled the world with early advisories disseminating misinformation about how the virus is spread.
In 2017, however, it was Dr. Tedros who was under fire after an advisor to Dr. David Nabarro, his opponent for the Directorship at the time came forward with the accusation. that he covered up Cholera outbreaks in Ethiopia, according to the Times report. Dr. Tedros said he was “not surprised at all but quite disappointed” by the claims and dismissed the calls, which were also made by high-ranking British health officials, as a “last-minute smear campaign,” the report stated.
Before serving the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros was Ethiopia’s health minister between 2005 to 2012. Some of Ethiopia’s regular outbreaks of Cholera occurred during his tenure.
Lawrence O. Gostin, the director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University warned then that the WHO “might lose its legitimacy” by bringing in someone who worked for a country that had a history of covering up the Cholera outbreaks, some of which occurred under Dr. Tedros’ watch.
“Dr. Tedros is a compassionate and highly competent public health official,” he said at the time. “But he had a duty to speak truth to power and to honestly identify and report verified cholera outbreaks over an extended period.”