When Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus ascended to the top of leadership at the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017, my colleague, Raevyn Goates wrote about it at Africa Agenda.
Ghebreyesus won the vote in 2017 by 63 %, which was an overwhelming 133 votes out of 185 votes cast. He was the first director-general of the WHO elected in an open process to all member states. Also, he was the first African, ever, to lead the organization in its 72-year history. His term of office is for five years, which means there will be an election in 2022.
Ghebreyesus’s experiences in healthcare are vast, having served as minister of health in Ethiopia before becoming director-general at WHO.
Since the election in 2017, his leadership has been unquestioned and unchallenged, until the coronavirus began spreading outside of Wuhan in China.
After the organization issued early warnings, much more than many national governments, about the dangers that the virus posed to global health, according to The New York Times, the United States government ignored the warnings. More than 100,000 people have now been killed by Covid-19 in America alone.
Projections about what is coming are dire.
Who’s Messing with Ghebreyesus?
The scapegoating of what is happening is not with failed leadership at the very top of the American government, but instead with the leadership at the WHO, led by Ghebreyesus.
First, the U.S. government cut off funding to the WHO in April. Later in May, it said it would restore partial funding to the organization.
After mismanaging the U.S. response to the disease, Trump and his associates quickly turned their ire toward Ghebreyesus, and then toward the Chinese government, accusing them of a slow response to the disease which has crippled life around the world.
According to Africa Confidential, which has been reporting about the African continent since 1960, after failing to remove Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian who is at the head of the WHO, Washington is now focused on protecting its commercial rights to a possible Covid-19 vaccine.
Africa Confidential reports that there has been an effort from the U.S. to undermine Ghebreyesus out of his leadership role at WHO. The publication says African diplomats have pushed back against these efforts.
“In a statement of 13 May seen by Africa Confidential, African ambassadors in Geneva condemn the campaign ‘from certain political quarters’ seeking to discredit Tedros and the WHO. Given that he is Ethiopian, it adds that there is an ‘unfortunate racial undertone to the criticism’.”
The firestorm brewing over WHO leadership in relation to Covid-19 got heated in Geneva, where the WHO is headquartered, ahead of the May 18 General Assembly meeting. During that assembly, this report from Arirang News talked of fierce exchanges between the U.S. and China about who is to blame for the spread of the coronavirus.
What Are the Consequences?
As this issue continues, I checked out some of the leading publications of news, commentary and analysis, and opinion in the United States and around the world to sample the varying perspectives.
1. The News
First, there is journalism. Some of the journalistic reporting I checked out can be read online via organizations such as Bloomberg News, the Los Angeles Times, with links that can be seen below.
- Bloomberg News: African Nations Back WHO’s Tedros After Attacks by Trump, U.S.
- LA Times: UN. health agency chief unbowed amid attacks, Trump criticism
2. The Analysis
Some of the finest analyses I gathered can be seen through the lens of Reuters News Agency, Time Magazine, and The Economist, with links provided.
- Reuters News Agency: Caught in Trump-China feud, WHO’s leader is under siege
- Time Magazine: Why We Need the World Health Organization, Despite Its Flaws
- The Economic Times: WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus unbowed amid attacks, Trump criticism
3. The Opinion and the Blame Game
And then there is a load of opinion on this matter, seen through the lens of the usual conservative suspects; National Review, Fox News, and Foreign Policy.
While it is clear that not all the publications which spout conservative opinion that often aligns with the U.S. Republican establishment, it’s also clear many of the so-called right-leaning publications buy into the same false narrative, that the WHO colluded with the Chinese government to let the coronavirus spread by withholding information.
- National Review: WHO Chief Tedros Has Got to Go
- Foreign Policy: How WHO Became China’s Coronavirus Accomplice
- Fox News: WHO chief’s questionable past comes into focus following coronavirus response