W.H.O. Chief Anticipates ‘Working Very Closely’ with Potential Biden Administration

W.H.O. chief
Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP

World Health Organization (W.H.O.) director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday that he looks forward to “working very closely” with the prospective administration of Joe Biden, who said he would immediately reverse President Donald Trump’s decision to freeze U.S. support from the organization over its malfeasance during the Wuhan coronavirus crisis.

Tedros told an annual meeting of health ministers that W.H.O. needs more “flexible and predictable” financing to avoid a “major misalignment” between the organization’s resources and the expectations of the international community.

He said he welcomes reform efforts, even though W.H.O. has rejected all criticism of how it handled the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic and its bungling from the outset that saw it misdiagnose the severity of the crisis.

“We still have a lot of work left to do, but we believe that we’re on the right track,” he said.

Tedros said that in the spirit of urging the international community to recapture a sense of common purpose, W.H.O. congratulated “President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and we look forward to working with this administration very closely.”

“We need to reimagine leadership, build on mutual trust and mutual accountability to end the pandemic and address the fundamental inequalities that lie at the root of so many of the world’s problems,” he added.

President Trump announced a freeze on U.S. funding for W.H.O. in April, saying it was “wrong about a lot of things” pertaining to the coronavirus.

“We want to look into the World Health Organization because they really called it wrong. They missed the call, they could have called it months earlier, they would have known, they should have known, and they probably did know,” he said.

“They seem to be very China-centric. That’s a nice way of saying it, but they seem to be very China-centric, and they seem to err always on the side of China,” he added.

Trump objected to W.H.O. and Director-General Tedros criticizing his January travel ban from China – an argument Trump would win decisively in the following months, as China later began imposing travel bans and many other countries followed suit, without much criticism from W.H.O. Today there is very little controversy when any country other than the United States announces a ban on travel from areas that are reporting coronavirus “waves.”

Trump administration officials said they presented a list of reforms that W.H.O. needed to make to sustain U.S. funding, but the reforms were not implemented.

President Trump said in May that because those “requested and greatly needed reforms” were not made, the U.S. would be “terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.”

Biden vowed during the campaign that he would reverse Trump’s decision to freeze W.H.O. funding “on day one” if he won the election.

“Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global health. On my first day as President, I will rejoin the W.H.O. and restore our leadership on the world stage,” he said in July.

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