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Why Modi, Trump & others are angry at WHO’s handling of Covid-19 crisis 

In episode 429 of #CutTheClutter, Shekhar Gupta explains how WHO’s reputation has been damaged by its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

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New Delhi: The World Health Organisation (WHO), the agency that handles health within the United Nations, is facing a lot of global criticism, and even in India, over how it has handled this Covid-19 crisis. It does seem that it took too long in reacting to the pandemic and gave China a long pass.  

It was in denial for a long time that the coronavirus was a pandemic and in fact, it took too long even accepting that human-to-human transmission of this virus was possible. It had been giving glowing certificates of good conduct to China until the end of January. The WHO was criticising countries including the US for imposing travel bans on China. 

At the G20 Virtual Summit Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a very diplomatic way, questioned the WHO. In fact, he suggested that the WHO now needs recasting. He said that it does look like the WHO does not have the kind of power that is needed to manage Covid-19 kind of global pandemics. He also wanted the WHO to be empowered to issue early warnings and also for capacity building and for working towards vaccines. He also said it was caught up in the last century. 

Also read: The isolation of Bhuvan Shome is all too real in a time of social distancing

WHO balancing between powers

The previous century was very different because it was the century of the Cold War following the World War when the UN was formed. The WHO was caught balancing between the US and Russia. The world became unipolar after the Cold War ended. Now the unipolar has become a bipolar world, with the rise of China. One of the poles, which was the main pole or the pivot on which the world stood after the Cold War, has now been shrinking. That is Trump’s America or America under Trump. 

While Modi has been diplomatic in his criticism of the WHO, others have not.  

Trump himself has said that WHO has become one-sided and sides with China, and that it is unfair.  Marco Rubio, who was the former candidate for the Republican party nomination, said there were several red flags in WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ relationship with China.  

Another senior Republican senator Michael McCaul, who’s a ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, dittoed that allegation. Then Congressman Greg Steube, also of the Republican Party, said that under Tedros, the WHO has become a mouthpiece of China.  

Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican, said the same thing. Now arguably, these are all Republican Party senators and congressmen, but they are all attacking Tedros and the WHO so strongly on the same issue. That the WHO has been weak and incompetent inefficient in dealing with this crisis, that it has led down the failed the world also, and it’s been too weak in dealing with China.  

Lawrence O. Gostin, a prominent global health expert who is also an informal adviser to Dr David Nabarro, a rival candidate in the race for WHO director general, accused Tedros of covering up to three cholera epidemics in his home country, Ethiopia, when he was the health minister. Gostin called attention to Ethiopia’s long history of denying cholera outbreaks even as aid agencies scrambled to contain them. “Dr Tedros is a compassionate and highly competent public health official,” Gostin said. “But he had a duty to speak truth to power and to honestly identify and report verified cholera outbreaks over an extended period.” 

Also read: 6 steps every country needs to take now to fight coronavirus: WHO

Rise of China

So what happened in the past with the WHO in similar situations in 2000 when three SARS outbreaks took place. When the SARS outbreak took place, the WHO chief was Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland. She had been three times the prime minister of Norway, again a solid person. She stood up to China. Now, in fact, she was very critical of China. She called out China for not acting fast enough and under her, the WHO called out China for viruses emerging from wild animal trade.  China then fired its health minister and the Beijing mayor. 

The power equation in the world has changed today. China has risen and agencies do not want to upset it today. The WHO has only praised China until now. Tedros travelled to China and found nothing wrong. On 14 January, the WHO said there is no human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus. A Chinese epidemiologist, Zhung Nanshan, had on 20 January, said that human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus is possible. Tedros after that went to China. In China, he met Xi Jinping, and again made his statement praising the Chinese that they had been remarkably fast in catching the virus. 

Watch the full episode of CTC here:

Also read: Italy & Spain’s deadliest days prove the worst is far from over


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  1. The role played by Bill Gates, Dr Fauci should be thoroughly investigated, along with jettisoning WHO chief while reducing China’s influence in it. Follow the money should be the mai criteria. Look at who are the beneficiaries playing the shaithan’s role. US , India ,and Russia should take charge.

  2. What is regrettable in this pandemic is the reluctance that we feel here and there. It is not a question of incriminating a State, but a political system which is opaque and an international organization which seems not to not have answered as it should have. It now seems established that the disease started at the end of last November. At the end of December WHO is alerted. The virus is sequenced in China at the beginning of January, but the authorities seem to be reluctant to publish this sequencing. But the information eventually leaks, and the laboratory behind the sequencing is closed. WHO declares the pandemic on March 11. It is the chronology of the facts that should challenge us. Why such a shift. The silence of the United Nations is also deafening. During the Ebola crisis in 2014, had this organization not adopted a resolution? Why, in the case of Africa, did this organization intervene so quickly? Why are there double standards? What should we think of the current action of a country taking advantage of the pandemic to promote its health diplomacy?

    • As an observer I saw the news a first death and contagious virus they shout sars coming many were crying for tests. Everything were cancelled. Si told Trump before his people they were complaint about that in a news source said. Then the spread was so fast even my friends said it looked like in a movie as bag and bag of corpses were transported to cremation in the evening they even recruited more undertakers. I do not understand that other countries did not know that the two months hell time in China Wuhan which was the first one to be attacked by this virus and suffered alone plus a very new virus they kept reported wrongly. China made a biggest mistake is they have some Chinese are still in quarantine now till April they should care for their own countries instead went to help many countries obviously the outbreaks now to the rest of the world China thought they knew the virus at least a bit more than other who asked to help. But some countries always thought China into something e.g. France and Denmark. Finally people did not like to follow the measure protection to contain the virus as no mask still beach gathering, church congregation, birthday parties sadly all these promoting the spreading of the viruses people are lack of responsibilities . As 0n 23/1/20 China locked down 24/1/20 was Chinese New Year the most important celebration to Chinese people and with lots of preparation shows foods etc. all down to the drains had to cancelled because of to stop the virus to spread. Sadly some people came home to be with family celebrating New Year had to travel back to their home as lock down announced, majority travelled back to other parts of China, Canton,Hongkong, etc. Holding foreign passports etc. they had to leave some Japanese business people chose to stay as they have houses in China LOL I watch some youtube so I learned. No one like to see the spreading so much now and death tolls plus the the poor economy. It would be helpful people could take more seriously even now Netherland is going to have a Flower Show and many religious groups still congregate, India still no social distancing. ( it out all in the news) I pray every day for the recovery Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo. Kyo….

  3. It’s true that China needs to be questioned on its opeque handling of such a humanitarian issue, but then Trump also needs to be questioned on the delay in his response. While lockdown by Modi appears to be appropriate, he also needs to be questioned on the lack of arrangements for the poor wanting to migrate. But the mindset and language of Bhaktas refuse to look at any issue comprehensively and worst possible and dirty ( licking a….etc as if they don’t find it smelly and enjoy it) language is used. God save country from these Bhakts.

  4. Sitting in India, surrounded by Modi Bhakts and Trump fans, it may look like WHO’s credibility is at line. But it’s not. Outside in the world, where I am, governments are believing WHO and citing China’s success story of bringing COVID-19 local cases to zero. There is much respect for the way Asian countries have handled this pandemic, as opposed to the lazy and botched up response of the US. Of course, the miffed alpha-males of India and US have nobody to blame but China and WHO.

    • No Alina Haider, no country really now trusts WHO.
      Only individual like you who likes to somehow dislike Modi and India are in such belief that every country believe WHO.

      Your name is enough to show your mentality, don’t say anymore, this world do not expect anything good from you people.

      Best of luck for your desire to be _ number of wive of Arab Sheikh.

    • China is to blame, even many of their own citizens are blaming their Government for not acting fast enough in the early stages of the virus. CCP in response to maintain is international image lied again and again, which caused the outbreak to turn onto a pandemic.
      Btw, India is an Asian Country too.
      Ohh, sorry didn’t see your name 🤦‍♂️ Go ahead keep licking chinese asses, until one of your family members gets infected by this CHINESE VIRUS.

      P.S. Pease stay in the outside world, Don’t comeback to India. It is surrounded by Bhakts and Chamchas

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