The WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned the world leaders against politicizing the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, April 8. He commented in response to US President Donald Trump's recent threat of slashing funding to the world health body.
What did the WHO's Director-General say?
"At the end of the day, the people belong to all political parties. The focus of all political parties should be to save their people. Please don't politicize this virus," Dr Ghebreyesus said. "If you don't want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it," he added.
On Tuesday, April 7, Trump criticized WHO's handling of the novel coronavirus crisis and threatened to put a "very powerful hold" on funding to the WHO, adding that they "missed the call" on the pandemic. But minutes later, the President backtracked on his earlier statement and said he was going to "look at" doing it.
He also criticized the world health body for being "very China-centric". "I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?" he tweeted.
In the press briefing on Wednesday, the WHO urged countries, including the US and China, to cooperate. When asked by a reporter about Trump's recent comments, the WHO chief said, "I know I didn't address your question directly". "I don't think that's necessary. We shouldn't waste time pointing fingers. We need time to unite," he added.
Dr Ghebreyesus later shared that he has personally faced severe criticism, racist insults and even death threats. "I don't mind. I prefer to really focus on saving lives." He said that he can tolerate personal attacks, but not on racial communities and Africans. "I don't care because I am a very proud Black person," said Dr Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian microbiologist. "I don't care even being called 'Negro.'"
"I don't care because what I care is when humanity is insulted, when we don't care, when we have more than 60,000 body bags", he added, Global News reported.
Why is the WHO being criticized?
The WHO has been widely criticized for towing the Chinese line and delaying its response to the global pandemic. As per China's official stance, the WHO initially maintained that the novel coronavirus couldn't be transmitted from one person to another. It criticized other nations for suspending travel to and from China, during the initial stages of the disease outbreak.
Throughout the course of the pandemic, it hailed China's handling of the coronavirus crisis and its transparency on the issue. It was only on March 11, when the virus had spread throughout the world, that it declared it a global pandemic. According to the latest tally by Worldmeter, over 1.5 million people have been infected with novel coronavirus and 88,549 have lost their lives.