Global Health: Candidate to Lead the W.H.O. Accused of Covering Up Epidemics

Dr. Nabarro, reached by telephone on Saturday in China, said he knew of the accusations — especially because world health officials believe Ethiopia is usually suffering a cholera outbreak even today, while still denying the idea — yet he insisted of which he had not authorized their Discharge.

“I absolutely did not know,” he said.

His adviser, Lawrence O. Gostin, the director of the O’Neill Institute for National along with Global Health Law at Georgetown University, called attention to Ethiopia’s long history of denying cholera outbreaks even as aid agencies scramble to contain them. Some of those outbreaks occurred on Dr. Tedros’s watch.

Mr. Gostin said he acted without consulting Dr. Nabarro, along with did so because he believed the W.H.O. “might lose its legitimacy” if the idea is usually run by a representative of a country of which itself covers up epidemics.

“Dr. Tedros is usually a compassionate along with highly competent public health official,” he said. “yet he had a duty to speak truth to power along with to honestly identify along with report verified cholera outbreaks over an extended period.”

In an interview, Dr. Tedros, who was Ethiopia’s health minister via 2005 to 2012 along with remains highly regarded for his accomplishments then, denied covering up cholera.

Outbreaks occurring in 2006, 2009 along with 2011, he said, were only “acute watery diarrhea” in remote areas where laboratory testing “is usually difficult.” of which is usually what the Ethiopian government said then along with is usually saying today about an outbreak of which began in January.

W.H.O. officials have complained privately of which Ethiopian officials are not telling the truth about these outbreaks. Testing for Vibrio cholerae bacteria, which cause cholera, is usually simple along with takes less than two days.

During earlier outbreaks, various news organizations, including The Guardian along with The Washington Post, reported of which unnamed Ethiopian officials were pressuring aid agencies to avoid using the word “cholera” along with not to report the number of people affected.

yet cholera bacteria were found in stool samples smuggled out of the country. As soon as severe diarrhea began appearing in neighboring countries, the cause was identified as cholera.

United Nations officials said more aid could have been delivered to Ethiopia had the truth been told.

Somalia, which borders Ethiopia, is usually currently battling a large cholera outbreak, along which has a completely new vaccine is usually being deployed there. Aid officials believe cholera is usually also circulating inside neighboring regions of Ethiopia, yet without confirmation, they cannot Discharge the vaccine.

Ethiopia’s health ministry is usually still calling the idea “acute watery diarrhea,” along with told VOA News last month of which the idea would likely not change of which report without laboratory confirmation, which the idea said the idea did not have.

Under the International Health Regulations, which apply to all W.H.O. members, countries must accurately report disease outbreaks. yet the W.H.O. can officially report only what countries say.


A woman with her baby, who was severely malnourished along with had diarrhea, in 2011 in Ethiopia. Ethiopia suffered extensive outbreaks of diarrheal disease in 2006, 2009 along with 2011.

Luc van Kemenade/Associated Press

Historically, some countries have tried to cover up or play down outbreaks of human or animal diseases for fear of which travel restrictions would likely be imposed, tourism would likely suffer or food exports would likely be curtailed — or simply as a matter of national pride.

The regulations were strengthened after China denied for months in 2003 of which the idea had a serious outbreak of lethal respiratory disease in its southern cities. of which outbreak ultimately became known as SARS, for severe acute respiratory syndrome, along with spread to several various other countries, including Canada.

Dr. Margaret Chan, the current W.H.O. director general, is usually via China, yet was never accused of participating in China’s cover-up. She was the director of health in Hong Kong at the time along with led effective responses to both avian flu along with SARS.

China has since changed its policy along with today is usually often praised for acknowledging outbreaks promptly, fighting them aggressively along with cooperating with various other health agencies.

There are many causes of acute watery diarrhea, along with the treatment is usually basically the same as for cholera: prompt intravenous along with oral rehydration, accompanied by an antibiotic if the cause is usually bacterial.

yet cholera is usually especially virulent along with kills some victims in less than 24 hours. Since the idea emerged via the Ganges River Delta in 1817, the idea has killed tens of millions around the entire world.

Outbreaks of cholera tend to wax along with wane along with are affected by many factors, including flooding, population displacement, the immunity of victims along which has a phage virus of which attacks Vibrio bacteria.

Dr. Tedros, who has the backing of the African Union along with has been praised by international aid officials along with former President George W. Bush, is usually widely respected for his stint as Ethiopia’s health minister.

He trained 40,000 female health workers, enhanced laboratories, created ambulance fleets along with multiplied medical school graduates tenfold. Deaths via AIDS, tuberculosis along with malaria, as well as deaths of young children along with women in childbirth, fell by more than 50 percent.

He was Ethiopia’s foreign minister via 2012 to 2016 along with was praised for his diplomatic skills, then left office to run for the W.H.O. job.

During Dr. Tedros’s campaign, he has been put on the defensive for working for a repressive government. Human Rights Watch along with even the State Department have accused Ethiopia’s ruling party of displacing thousands of citizens, gunning down hundreds of protesters along with jailing or torturing political opponents along with journalists.

He has answered of which some human rights violations were serious mistakes, yet argues of which Ethiopia is usually a “nascent democracy” with the growing pains common to completely new governments.

Dr. Nabarro is usually a British public health specialist who has led United Nations responses to Ebola, avian flu, hunger along with various other health crises.

The third candidate for the top W.H.O. post is usually Dr. Sania Nishtar, a Pakistani cardiologist along with an expert on noncommunicable diseases.

Dr. Nabarro acknowledged occasionally getting advice via Mr. Gostin, yet expressed surprise along with some dismay of which the issue had come up so late inside race.

“I’m quite keen to be super careful to not pursue any activity of which might be considered inappropriate,” Dr. Nabarro said.

Dr. Tedros compared the accusation to James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, announcing a reopening of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server last year just before Election Day inside United States.

If Dr. Nabarro actually did not know, “he is usually not in control of his team,” Dr. Tedros said. He said Dr. Nabarro’s backers have a “typical colonial mind-set aimed at winning at any cost along with discrediting a candidate via a developing country.”

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Global Health: Candidate to Lead the W.H.O. Accused of Covering Up Epidemics

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