‘WHO’s future in present form is in peril’

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The continuance of the World Health Organization (WHO), in its present form, is looking increasingly difficult with the United States of America (USA) makingit clear that the WHO acted “recklessly” while dealing with Covid-19 and calling it the propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party.

On 9 April, 14 Republican US member of Congress, who are on the US House Committee on oversight and reforms, wrote a letter to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, accusing him of helping Beijing “disseminate propaganda” “downplaying the extent of the disease” and possibly delaying the ordering of a public emergency. The Committee on Oversight and Reforms has 23 Democrats and 17 Republican members; the letter sent to the WHO, however,
does not have the signature of any Democratic member.

In the five-page letter, which is available with The Sunday Guardian, WHO and Ghebreyesus have been accused of praising China’s “transparency” while in reality, it was hiding information while giving specific examples to prove their allegations.

The Congressmen have accusedWHO of denying human-to-human spread of Covid-19 solely on the basis of Chinese propaganda, ignoring Taiwanese warning of human-to-human transmission, delay in declaring Covid-19 a pandemic due to pressure from China and delaying measures like travel ban and continuously praising China’s effort to combat Covid-19 despite it trying to cover up the spread. The Congressmen have also demanded the release of all documents between WHO and China from August 2019 till date, all documents related to the total number of Covid-19 infected in China and all similar documents that were exchanged between WHO and Taiwan.

Speaking to The Daily Guardian, Congressman Paul Gosar from Arizona, who is one of the signatories to the official communication to the WHO, said they were also investigating whether the virus was bio-engineered or not.

“The United States government is concerned about how the virus spread from Wuhan, China, to the rest of the world. At this time, we have no conclusive evidence it was bio-engineered, but investigations continue. The World Health Organization has been reckless, wrong, and ineffective. I fully support President Trump’s decision to halt funding for an organisation that appears to be a propaganda arm for the Chinese Communist Party,” he said.

“The WHO maliciously told the world the virus was not transmissible person-to-person. The WHO maliciously told the world not to wear masks. The WHO maliciously told the world not to close borders and that doing so would be racist. I’ve had enough of their incompetence. Tens of thousands are dead due to its malfeasance. Finally, the fact that the WHO excludes Taiwan from its membership is an outrage. Taiwan has been a global leader handling this pandemic and the WHO could have learned treatment protocols that worked instead of spreading CCP propaganda,” Gosar added.

The role of India in deciding the future of the WHO in these turbulent times will become crucial as India will move into a leadership role at the WHO headquarters after the annual meeting of the global health body next month.

India’s nominee will be appointed as a chairperson of the WHO’s executive board on 22 May at the executive board’s first meeting after the truncated World Health Assembly conference. India replaces Japan which will complete its one-year-term at
the crucial job in May.

The decision of the chairperson’s position coming to India was decided in September last year when the WHO’s South-East Asia group unanimously proposed New Delhi to the executive board for a threeyear-term. The group also nominated India for the chairperson’s post which is held through rotation for a period of one year among regional groups.

The World Health Assembly(WHA), that will formally elect the executive board members to fill vacancies, is proposed to be held on 18 May. By virtue of being on the executive board for threeyears, India will also have a say in the shortlisting of the next WHO director general when Tedros’sfive-year-tenure ends in May 2021.