Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Picture: Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP/African News Agency (ANA)
Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Picture: Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP/African News Agency (ANA)

Pandor defends WHO boss Tedros in Trump spat

By Siviwe Feketha Time of article published Apr 16, 2020

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Johannesburg - International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor has come to the defence of the World Health Organization (WHO) director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus following the attack on his leadership by US President Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, Trump said the US was halting its more than $400 million funding of the WHO as he accused it of mismanaging and covering up the spread of coronavirus.

Trump said the WHO under Ghebreyesus had failed to get its medical experts into China to objectively assess the Covid-19 outbreak on the ground and also called out China's lack of transparency, which he said would have made it possible to contain the outbreak at its source, and for minimal deaths.

Pandor said her assessment of Ghebreyesus, whom she referred to as “a fellow African by the way and the first time that we have someone at the helm of the WHO that we claim as our own”, was that he had led the global health agency of the United Nations with excellence.

“He has done an excellent job. He has been transparent. He has been accountable and he has indicated to the world that all of us need to be alert. It is not easy to say to the world that this is a pandemic, meaning the globe is affected, and he did,” Pandor said.

Trump’s move has been slammed in the US and by other countries as it was viewed as undermining the fight against the global pandemic, which has infected more than two million people and killed more than 135 000, with the US leading in infections and deaths, at 644 348 and 28 554, respectively, by Thursday noon.

Pandor said: “No one can honestly accuse Dr Tedros of not being transparent and accountable. I believe he has done an amazing job and I think through his communication, a lot of us became alert and said we must begin to prepare.”

In SA Covid-19 has so far infected 2 506 and killed 34 people.

Trump has been accused of having downplayed the virus and of ignoring warnings and advice to take early protective measures to protect US citizens from the massive infections, which have seen many countries placing themselves on lockdown.

Political Bureau

* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak visit IOL's #Coronavirus trend page

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the government's 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or go to SA Coronavirus for more information.

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