Covid-19 has shown that the World Health Organization has lost all credibility under Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. It’s time to replace it with a new body.
Considering the Covid-19 link, it’s ironic how the “may you live in interesting times” quote is a popular English expression that is known – erroneously, as it just so happens – as a so-called ‘Chinese curse.’
But there’s nothing mistaken about how Beijing has put a hex on the World Health Organization, which now increasingly looks to be at the point of no return following US President Donald Trump’s radical decision to break off all ties with it.
I certainly don’t buy into any conspiracy theories about the WHO being in cahoots with the Red Dragon – another irony, given it’s a moniker that supposedly symbolizes good fortune – or being “pressurized” into misleading the world about the true extent of coronavirus when it was first detected in Wuhan, as Trump claims.
Why ever not?
Simply because many of the leading figures within the World Health Organization took the Hippocratic Oath and would now be screaming blue murder if they could even smell a (Chinese) rat.
In another twisted irony, it’s actually the Year of the Rat. According to one fable linked with the Chinese Zodiac, the rodent in question tricks an ox into giving it a hitch on its back in a race and then leaps off at the finish line to win.
It’s a fitting allegory for the here and now, because I’d quicker buy into the theory that Beijing may have led the WHO down blind alleys in its investigation into the Covid-19 outbreak rather than harbor any thoughts of overt conspiracy.
The emerging evidence suggests that China downplayed to the WHO the original timescale of those first infected by the coronavirus in Wuhan, with it probably occurring as far back as November.
Part of me wants to believe the wilder theories, because the alternative is much more frightening: that the WHO has shown itself up to be both astoundingly naive and grossly incompetent.
But, truth be told, the idea of the WHO’s leadership being inept is not exactly coming at us out of leftfield.
There’s been something of a pattern of incompetence ever since Ethiopian health researcher Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was appointed director-general of the organization in 2017, with exhibit A being his first decision in charge to bizarrely appoint Robert Mugabe as a so-called “goodwill ambassador.”
The mind still boggles at that call…
The director-general should have been made to fall on his own sword after that backfired on him so spectacularly, with the former Zimbabwean president being immediately removed from the post as soon as he got it.
To describe that appointment as nothing more than a “miscalculation” or “poor judgment,” as the WHO attempted to do, was an insult to all those who directly suffered at the hands of the “African dictator, who destroyed an entire country in order to keep his job.”
Tedros out of his depth
As someone clearly out of his depth, as is evident from his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, it begs the question: Why did the WHO make the odd selection of Dr Tedros – who didn’t even actually go to medical school, believe it or not – as the first director-general in its 72-year history “not to be a medical doctor”?
A PhD graduate (in philosophy, no less) who likes to “go by the name” of Dr Tedros, this ego-inflated character reminds me of Ross Geller from TV’s ‘Friends,’ who prattles on about being a doctor himself, even though he only studied paleontology.
The history books may remember Dr Tedros as even more of a fumbling idiot than Donald Trump, which speaks volumes.
And – worse still – the jury is out on which one of them has ended up costing more lives in the Covid-19 crisis.
Dr Tedros’ ‘close friends’ in Beijing also need to take a close look at themselves over their handling of the Covid-19 outbreak.
China will only have itself to blame if any of the cover-up allegations do emerge as true, and it ends up a pariah state.
The truth is Dr Tedros is a dead man walking following Trump’s shock announcement that he is “terminating”
America’s relationship with the WHO, but even offering up his head might not be enough to get the organization itself off life support.
This might have been sufficient in the best of times, but the reality is we’re no longer living in so-called normal times.
In fact, never mind the apocryphal adage of “interesting times;” we are living in very strange times indeed when I find myself agreeing with Trump’s decision to wash his hands of the WHO.
Massive US funding
It says a lot when many keyboard warriors, who despise the deeply divisive US president, have not been so quick on the draw to criticize him on this either.
In fact, many of them even find themselves grudgingly agreeing with him, which must surely stick in the craw.
Trump is not a man for turning. In the long term, it will be nigh on impossible for the WHO to survive without US funding – $893 million during 2018-2019 – if he is re-elected come November.
To put that gigantic sum into perspective, China “only” contributes $86 million.
And this, ultimately, is the crux of it from the Donald’s point of view.
He’s hardly motivated by the prospect of creating a more effective world health body, more the opportunity to punish an organization he considers too closely aligned with the Chinese.
But, even if Joe Biden gets into the White House and restores the WHO’s funding, the reality is it now has little or no credibility among most normal folk and has been irreparably damaged.
You can see it all over Facebook, with even stay-at-home moms questioning the WHO – despite the social media giant’s best efforts to censor much of the online material in question that they’re reposting.
The WHO is never going to regain the trust of this generation.
So given that it doesn’t seem to be fit for purpose, it might be best to dismantle it and start afresh with a new agency, shedding the toxic image of incompetence that has stained the WHO brand.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say Dr Tedros “should be put on trial for crimes against humanity,” as is argued in this YouTube video.
But it’s time for a change. Because with him at the helm, it’s been very much a case of WHO dares, Trump wins…
By Jason O’Toole, who has worked as a senior feature writer for the Irish Daily Mail, a columnist with the Irish Sunday Mirror and senior editor of Hot Press magazine. He’s also the author of several best-selling books.
Originally published by RT.com
The 21st Century
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of 21cir.