Almost one million signatures have been secured for an online petition calling for the resignation of the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Ethiopian politician who has led the Uniteds Nations-backed health body as director-general since July 2017, has been under fire over his handling of the Coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 100,000 people worldwide and sickened more than 1.7 million.
The petition reads that “On January 23rd, 2020 Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declines to declare China virus outbreak as a global health emergency” although that was done later in March.
“We strongly think Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is not fit for his role as WHO Director General,” the petition with 853,000 signatures, posted on the Change.org website, states, calling for the official’s immediate resignation.
The petition also claimed “A lot of us are really disappointed, we believe WHO is supposed to be political neutral. Without any investigation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus solely believes on the death and infected numbers that the Chinese government provided with them.”
U.S. lawmakers have been among Tedros’ harshest critics. On Thursday, a group of Republicans from the House Oversight Committee wrote to Tedros, demanding that he disclose the precise nature of his relationship with Chinese officials.
“Throughout the crisis, the WHO has shied away from placing any blame on the Chinese government, which is in essence the Communist Party of China,” the Republicans wrote. “You, as leader of the WHO, even went so far as to praise the Chinese government’s ‘transparency’ during the crisis, when, in fact, the regime has consistently lied to the world by underreporting their actual infection and death statistics.”
The U.S politicians accuse Tedros of allowing China to under-report the impact of the virus in Wuhan, where the outbreak started.
China has been accused of significantly downplaying its official virus cases, with some estimates suggesting their death toll could be as high as 40,000.
But many African leaders came to the defence of Tedros, warning the US against such a campaign at this time of a global crisis.
Dr Tedros has said that it is dangerous to play politics with the lives of people, especially during a crisis moment like this.
He said “No time to waste. Let’s focus on saving lives. Collaboration across party lines important to ensure national unity to fight the virus more effectively.
National unity is a foundation for global solidarity. When we do this, we quarantine political covid. Stop politicising.”
The WHO Director General has also recently revealed that he had received death threats following the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Ghebreyesus said he has for months been abused racially and called names like ”black or negro”.
He told journalists that “I can tell you personal attacks that have been going on for more than 2-3 months. Abuses or racist comments, giving me names…even death threats. I don’t give a damn.”