Five More Years for WHO Chief is Untenable

In Global, Global Advocacy, Global Featured, News by Julie

World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

In response to a Reuters story which says World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is running unopposed for a second term at the agency’s helm, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has labeled the process an utter travesty and urged United Nations Member States not to extend WHO Chief’s disastrous tenure for another five years.

According to unnamed sources quoted by Reuters, no other candidates are in contention for the top post at the WHO, even though Tedros’ own government in Ethiopia does not support his nomination and his performance has been repeatedly criticized. Any UN Member State can nominate candidates, but the deadline is set to run out this week. The final decision on who will lead the WHO will be made at the World Health Assembly in May 2022.

“Looking back at the past five years, can we say with full confidence that this is a leader fit for shepherding the world through the largest public health disaster of our time? Or are we stuck in a seemingly perpetual game of catch-up with the pandemic because the WHO Chief failed to prioritize public health from the outset despite many alarm bells and reams of unheeded recommendations?” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “We will have more of the same, if the WHO leadership remains in place — two years into the pandemic the world cannot afford that. This must not be an ‘election’ like those held in North Korea, where the outcome is known well before any votes are cast. We need a large and diverse pool of candidates to find the best possible person to lead the WHO. Surely, among 194 Member States there must be candidates worthy of consideration. Business as usual is simply inexcusable at this point.”

In June, AHF outlined six reasons why the WHO Chief should not be re-elected, they include the following:

1. WHO delayed declaring COVID-19 a pandemic.
2. Lack of transparency regarding the origin of COVID-19.
3. Inability to mobilize and coordinate resources to help low- and middle-income countries.
4. Delays in vaccine approvals.
5. Lack of authoritative guidance in preventing and responding to public health crises.
6. Failure to implement previous proposals to radically reform WHO.

The full statement titled “Six Reasons Why WHO Chief Should Go” is available here.

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