WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION MEMBERS MEET IN MAY HEADS FOR A FACE OFF
A meeting of World Health Assembly, the top decision-making body of World Health Organisation (WHO), scheduled for May 18 is heading for a face-off, since after US President Donald Trump is openly blaming WHO World chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for playing into China’s hands over novel coronavirus disease and have already stopped funding to the world health body.
To the discomfiture of Donald Trump and the US lawmakers, WHO has been praising China for its efforts to combat the spread of COVID19 contrary to former’s accusations that Beijing had underreported the threat and muffled the voice of professionals; doctors and journalists for speaking about the seriousness of the disease.
The top body of WHO may not take a clear cut stand on the matter however there would be increasing pressure on China to respond to criticism as to why and how that it wasn’t transparent about the disease.
The Ethiopian microbiologist Tedros was elected to the top position of WHO in 2017 with the support of Chinese premier Xi Jinping’s. He’s gathering support for himself from African and most Non-Aligned countries. According to WHO’s diplomats in Geneva where the annual meeting of the assembly though video would take place, a resolution calling for a global fight against the spread of COVID-19 is expected to come up and all 194 members of WHO are expected to make statements.
So far the European countries and the UK which have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus have desisted from criticizing WHO director-general, saying this isn’t the time to play politics but fight the virus.
Trump had also warned Xi of consequences if it was found that it had deliberately suppressed facts about the virus that originated from Wuhan. The US charges against WHO were largely summed up by the Committee on Oversight and Reform of the US Congress, which in a letter on April 9 to Dr Ghebreyesus made it clear that the organization was “no longer serving the needs of the world and instead of taking its cues from China.”
The US position is in contrast to the stand taken by the African Union and countries and the Non-Aligned Movement. Dr Ghebreyesus hails from Ethiopia, which has been a member of the movement for nearly 40 years.
The US is unhappy that as late as January 14, 2020, the WHO denied that there was community transmission in Wuhan despite warnings of human to human spread by a Taiwan who is not a member of WHO.
The WHO, the Trump administration believes, was late to declare COVID-19 as a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020.
By this time the disease had infected almost 10,000 people. In fact, Dr. Ghebreyesus congratulated the Chinese government for taking extraordinary measures to contain the outbreak.
The WHO, despite declaring COVID-19 an emergency of international concern with strong evidence of transmission through travel, did not warn any country against travel, to or from China. Between December 31 and January 31, as many as 430,000 people flew on direct flights from China to the US. COVID19 was only declared a pandemic on March 11 after it had raced around the world, sickening nearly 120,000 people in 110 countries and killing close to 4,400.