US President Donald Trump and his administration’s consistent attacks on the World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus have set up a curiosity at the proposed annual meeting of the World Health Assembly on May 18.
Trump, who has long accused the Tedros led WHO of playing into China’s hands over the coronavirus disease, and taking his word to action trump this week suspended funding to the global health body.
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 organisation was “no longer serving the needs of the world and instead taking its cues from China.”
But by then, the Ethopian microbiologist who was elected to lead the WHO in 2017 with support from Xi Jinping’s China, had already galvanised support from African and most Non-Aligned countries.
Even the most hard-hit European countries and the UK have desisted from criticising the WHO director general at this point, saying this isn’t the time to play politics but fight the virus.
Inside Sources confirms that diplomats based in Geneva where the annual meeting of the World Health Assembly take place would end up in an anodyne resolution calling for a global fight against the spread of Covid-19 with all member nations uploading their statements.
However, every representative of the 194-member body is expected to scrutinise the US statement as President Donald Trump has led the attack against Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, accusing him of playing into the hands of the Chinese government and downplaying the threat posed by the deadly virus that has claimed 157,000 lives worldwide.
President Trump on Sunday went a step ahead when he warned of consequences to the Xi Jinping regime if it was found that China had deliberately suppressed facts about the origin and spread of the virus that originated from Wuhan province.
The US position is in contrast to the stand taken by African Union and countries and 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 transmission by a non member Taiwan the previous month.
The WHO, the Trump administration believes, was late to declare Covid-19 as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) 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 a PHEIC and extensive evidence of transmission through travel, did not warn any country against travel, to or from China.
For context, the WHO declared a public health emergency on 30 January – after which the president continued to hold mass rallies and compare Covid-19 to the common flu.
On Tuesday, Trump complained the WHO had “defended the actions of the Chinese government, even praising its so-called transparency”.
[splco_quote]On 24 January, Trump tweeted his thanks to the Chinese for their work on the virus, praising their “efforts and transparency”.[/splco_quote]
Covid-19 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.
It is to be noted at the UN Security Council meeting that belatedly discussed the pandemic last week, the US drove home the point by calling for “complete transparency” in the reporting of coronavirus data, a clear reference to China.