World Health Organization (W.H.O.) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday that his controversial performance would be reviewed “in due course,” once the coronavirus pandemic is over.
This nebulous future date for some sort of internal review is unlikely to satisfy his critics or persuade U.S. President Donald Trump to restore the W.H.O. funding he froze on Tuesday.
Sky News reported Tedros’ statement as “the first cracks in previously uncompromising rhetoric that no wrong decisions had been made.” The offer of an inquiry at some vague date in the future might be taken as a very small concession to U.S. anger about W.H.O.’s astonishing failures under the leadership of the current Director-General:
“In due course, WHO’s performance in tackling this pandemic will be reviewed by WHO’s Member States and the independent bodies that are in place, to ensure transparency and accountability. This is part of the usual process put in place by our Member States”, he stated.
“No doubt areas of improvement will be identified and there will be lessons for all of us to learn but for now my focus is on stopping this virus.
“We regret the decision of the President of the United States to order a halt in funding to the World Health Organization.”
Sky News made it clear that stern criticism of W.H.O. was by no means limited to the Trump administration. The question is if anyone else is prepared to actually do something about, or merely wait for W.H.O. to investigate itself sometime next year:
Mr Adhanom has faced sustained calls from all sides of the political spectrum to resign after he refused to call for early travel bans at the behest of Chinese information.
The false information – that COVID-19 could not be transmitted from human-to-human contact – delayed the declaration of a global emergency by weeks and kept borders with China open to most countries.
A Southampton study in the UK has revealed that if the WHO had asked countries to close borders one week earlier 66 per cent of deaths would not have happened.
If it acted in early January, when it was first warned, 95 per cent of the deaths so far would not have happened.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also lambasted the WHO for endorsing the reopening of wet diseased markets despite one in Wuhan being the likely cause of COVID-19.
However, the Coalition will not pull Australia’s funding from the WHO and instead will pressure the organisation for structural reforms to prevent further influence from China.
President Trump accused W.H.O. of prioritizing “political correctness over lifesaving measures” when he froze the funding and said his administration has “deep concerns over whether America’s generosity has been put to the best use possible.”
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee voiced similar concerns in a letter to the W.H.O. director-general last week that asked him to submit to an investigation of his relationship with the Chinese Communist Party, as reported by Fox News:
“Throughout the crisis, the WHO has shied away from placing any blame on the Chinese government, which is in essence the Communist Party of China,” the Republicans wrote to Tedros. “You, as leader of the WHO, even went so far as to praise the Chinese government’s “transparency” during the crisis, when, in fact, the regime has consistently lied to the world by underreporting their actual infection and death statistics.”
The letter cites a January message on Twitter in which the WHO said Chinese authorities found “no clear evidence” of human-to-human transmission of the virus, also known as COVID-19.
“On January 14, 2020, the WHO tweeted that ‘[p]reliminary investigations conducted by Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus’,” the letter states. “These preliminary investigations included China jailing any doctor that disseminated any information about COVID-19 not first cleared through state-run media.”
“It is essential that American taxpayers’ money is allocated to organizations that uniformly serve the interests of nations across the globe, not merely the interests of China’s authoritarian, communist regime,” the House Oversight Republicans said.
On Wednesday, the Senate Homeland Security Committee announced a wide-ranging investigation of W.H.O.’s response to the coronavirus. The investigation will be headed by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL). A letter has already been sent to W.H.O. requesting documents.
Several Republican members of Congress have called on Tedros to resign or suggested U.S funding should be withheld until he does so.