World Health Organisation (WHO) chief accused of failing to record three cholera epidemics in home country
- Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus allegedly involved in Ethiopian cover-ups
- Also accused of failing to record a cholera outbreak in Sudan in the same year
- Allegations against health chiefs relate to outbreaks in the countries in 2017
By SEBASTIAN MURPHY-BATES FOR MAILONLINE, 12 April 2020
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, 55, is alleged to have been ‘complicit’ in failing to record or even identify outbreaks in Ethiopia back when he was a health minister.
Dr Tedros says that the accusations are part of mud-slinging during the run-up to him being elected as director general of the WHO, the Daily Telegraph reports.
In May 2017, he was accused of refusing to record the epidemics in 2006, 2009 and 2011.
At the time, he was Ethiopia’s health minister and went on to become foreign minister in 2012, a position he held until 2016.
Professor Larry Gostin told the New York Times in 2017: ‘Dr Tedros is a compassionate and highly competent public health official. But he had a duty to speak truth to power and to honestly identify and report verified cholera outbreaks over an extended period.’
Prof Gostin allegedly told the paper he feared the WHO might ‘might lose its legitimacy’ if it was run by somebody who covered up epidemics.
Dr Tedros is also accused of being ‘complicit’ in a failure to record a cholera outbreak in Sudan in the same year.
In September that year, US doctors wrote an open letter to Dr Tedros, saying: ‘Your silence about what is clearly a massive cholera epidemic in Sudan daily becomes more reprehensible. Your failure to transport stool samples from victims in Sudan to Geneva for official confirmation of cholera makes you fully complicit in the terrible suffering and dying that continues to spread, out of control, with daily new reports confirming that this is indeed a cholera epidemic.
‘The inevitable history that will be written of this epidemic will surely cast you in an unforgiving light.’
The outbreaks were classed as ‘acute watery diarrhea’ and it was alleged that by avoiding the term ‘cholera’, Dr Tedros was protecting tourism.
The WHO insisted that the naming of the disease made no difference to its response.
At the time, Dr Tedros denied the accusation that he’d covered up the pandemic. He said he was the victim of a smear to stop him getting the top health job in the world.
But the New York Times also ran complaints alleging that Ethiopian officials weren’t telling the truth about the outbreaks.
Professor Gostin declined to comment when contacted by the The Telegraph last week and said the interview ‘was a long time ago’.
Professor Gostin also told the British Medical Journal that the New York Times report of the allegations he had made was not accurate.
He also praised the health chief’s track record in Ethiopia, citing reforms to the country’s health care.
But he voiced concerns about appointment based on the county’s ‘dismal’ human rights abuse record and said the government had not fully and honestly reported several outbreaks of cholera which may have slowed the response of the international community.