World Health Organization Faces Calls for Leader to Resign over Coronavirus Failure

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), addresses the media during a press conference at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020 on the situation regarding to the new coronavirus. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)
Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP

Criticism of the World Health Organization (WHO) for allowing the Chinese Communist Party to influence its behavior during the Wuhan virus epidemic is intensifying, coupled with calls for Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to resign.

A petition calling for Tedros’ resignation and Taiwan’s full membership in WHO reached 500,000 signatures on Thursday, as reported by Taiwan News:

On Jan. 31, a netizen named Osuka Yip started a petition titled, “Call for the resignation of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General,” on, citing Adhanom’s refusal on Jan. 23 to designate the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) a global health emergency. The author said this was partially to blame for the number of infected cases increasing more than tenfold from 800 to more than 10,000 over the next five days.

“We strongly think Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is not fit for his role as WHO Director General. We call for the Immediate Resignation of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,” the petition reads.

It goes on to lament that despite the WHO’s supposed commitment to neutrality, Adhanom has taken the number of infected provided by China at face value. The vast majority of coronavirus infections have occurred in the communist country, which at the time of writing has counted 81,226 infections, a number widely believed to be grossly underreported, with 3,281 confirmed deaths.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Tuesday (March 24) confirmed that it had warned the WHO about human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 on Dec. 31 last year. However, the WHO did not publish the requested information on its internal website and on Jan. 8 praised China’s identification of the virus and did not recommend any specific travel measures for travelers.

The petition can be viewed and signed at, which reported 549,813 signatures as of Thursday morning.

Criticism of WHO leadership at Taiwan News stretches back to February when an op-ed wondered why the organization was taking so long to declare a pandemic and quoted some astonishingly obsequious remarks about China from top officials:

Since the virus first emerged in December, it has spread to more than 30 countries across five continents. By any interpretation, it must be considered a pandemic, yet the WHO continues to drag its feet. Why might this be?

One far from subtle clue was given earlier this week by Bruce Aylward, the man who leads the WHO-China mission of experts. In an astonishing statement, he lavished praise on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) handling of the outbreak and attacked the governments of other countries for failing to prepare adequately for the disease.

“China knows how to keep people alive,” Aylward claimed before adding, “That is not going to be the case everywhere in the world … It is a serious disease.”

Taiwan News cited the danger of the CCP using WHO as a mouthpiece to undermine travel bans, one of the few effective measures available to other nations as they struggled to slow the spread of the coronavirus:

Perhaps most worrying have been those statements that have urged international governments not to cancel flights to and from China or place any restrictions on the movement of people and goods.

It is patently obvious that these statements come straight from Beijing’s propaganda department and are focused on propping up China’s ailing economy rather than on any real consideration for the health of people around the world.

Far from being a responsible international body helping to contain the Wuhan virus pandemic, the WHO has become part of the problem. It now represents the interests of the communist regime, not those of the international community, and its advice and guidance has lost all credibility.

The February 27 op-ed concluded by referencing Yip’s petition, which at that point had about 400,000 signatures.

Taiwanese health officials restated on Wednesday that they warned WHO about human transmission of the coronavirus while the Chinese Communists were still denying such infections were possible. 

Taiwanese officials said WHO’s International Health Regulations unit did not post any of the information they forwarded. They criticized WHO for relaying false information from the CCP even though international observers were not allowed to obtain first-hand information about the epidemic in Wuhan. 

Taiwan went on to devise and implement the world’s most effective strategy for controlling the outbreak, but WHO keeps lavishing praise on Beijing. Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said last week that lives around the world could have been saved if the global health community had paid closer attention to Taiwan’s warnings and advice.

Rasmussen cited Taiwan’s exclusion from WHO as a deadly sop to Chinese vanity that contributed to thousands of deaths:

Until 2016, Taiwan was allowed to participate in its annual assembly as a non-state actor. This is no longer the case, and for the past three years, its request for an invitation has been denied. If it wishes to participate in WHO technical working bodies made up of health experts looking at specific challenges, it must apply each time and its participation is regularly blocked. One example of this was last year when Taiwan was blocked from discussions on influenza vaccines.

Taiwan made clear that its wish to be part of these bodies was due to its practical know-how. It has been satisfied to be included as an observer. It has something to offer the global health community. Yet China muddied the waters of geopolitics and global health – and today we see the consequences.

“Until now, the world’s multilateral bodies have gone along with China’s pressure that Taiwan be excluded. But it has come at a cost to all of us, starting in this case, to China. Now it’s time that we tell China, there is a place for discussing geopolitics. The World Health Organization is not it,” Rasmussen advised.

Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and House Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) are among the American critics of Tedros’ performance. Cruz described the WHO director’s conduct as “deeply troubling” in a Twitter statement on Tuesday that linked to an article describing how Tedros got the job with extensive assistance from the Chinese Communist Party:

The Daily Caller article referenced by Cruz noted that Tedros “worked closely with China during his time as Ethiopia’s health minister,” won the election to become WHO director “despite widely covered accusations that he covered up three different cholera epidemics as health minister in Ethiopia,” was shamed out of tapping the monstrous Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe to be a “goodwill ambassador” to the U.N. as a favor to Beijing, and is not even a medical doctor, although he has training in infectious disease response.

Senator Rubio and Rep. McCaul were quoted criticizing Tedros in a RealClearPolitics piece on Thursday. Rubio joined Cruz in labeling the director’s performance as “deeply disturbing.”

“The actions of the Chinese Communist Party exacerbated the public health crisis plaguing the international community, and instead of prioritizing global health, Dr. Tedros and the WHO played favoritism to China,” said Rubio.

McCaul said WHO is a victim of the CCP’s “shadow campaign to gain and wield influence at the United Nations.”

“Now, hundreds of thousands are sick, and thousands have died. That does not deserve accolades from the WHO. It deserves condemnation,” he said.

“WHO Director-General Tedros’ poor handling of this crisis shows a severe lack of judgment and certainly raises several red flags about his integrity serving in this important post,” McCaul charged.

RealClearPolitics noted that China pumped $13.6 billion into Ethiopia while Tedros was foreign minister from 2012 to 2016, including funds for a railroad, six-lane highway, metro system, and several skyscrapers.

RCP concluded by observing there are important Republicans and conservatives willing to cut Tedros some slack, notably including President Donald Trump, who has said Tedros “seems fine” but also questioned whether he is “biased towards China.”


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