Flashback: WHO’s Tedros was accused of covering up cholera outbreaks in Ethiopia
(washingtonexaminer)–The director-general of the World Health Organization had been accused of covering up three cholera epidemics that occurred in Ethiopia while he was the health minister.A global health expert first leveled the accusations against Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in 2017 during the election of the WHO’s next director-general, according to a 2017 New York Times story.Tedros denied the allegations against him, describing them as part of a wider “smear campaign” against his candidacy by the rival campaign of Dr. David Nabarro. He said he was “not surprised at all but quite disappointed” by the allegations.An adviser to Nabarro, Lawrence Gostin, said he brought attention to Ethiopia’s history of allegedly covering up cholera epidemics and said the WHO “might lose its legitimacy” if it is run by someone who failed to “speak truth to power,” according to the New York Times.“Dr. Tedros is a compassionate and highly competent public health official,” he said. “But he had a duty to speak truth to power and to honestly identify and report verified cholera outbreaks over an extended period.”
Tedros was appointed as Ethiopia’s health minister in 2005 and served until 2012, when he was appointed foreign minister. In that time, Ethiopia didn’t officially record any outbreaks of cholera in 2006, 2009, and 2011. Instead, they were recorded as cases of “acute watery diarrhea,” a symptom of cholera, according to the New York Times.
However, international investigators testing patient samples found the bacteria that causes cholera.
The WHO’s leadership has been criticized by President Trump for being “China-centric” amid the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
The WHO vocally opposed Trump’s decision to impose limitations on travel to China in late January. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has credited this decision with helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the United States.
Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China🇨🇳. pic.twitter.com/Fnl5P877VG
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 14, 2020
Taiwan claimed that it warned the WHO in December that the disease could be spread through human-to-human transmission. On Jan. 14, the WHO tweeted that it had found “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission.”
Trump said Tuesday that the U.S. will temporarily halt funding to the United Nations agency while a review of the WHO’s “role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus” is conducted.
“We have not been treated properly,” Trump said. “The WHO pushed China’s misinformation about the virus.”