WHO chief says 'lack of leadership' more dangerous than the virus

The appeal is an oblique reference to populist leaders, including US President Donald Trump.

Credit : medium

The World Health Organization (WHO) director-general has expressed his displeasure over a "lack of leadership" and the absence of national and global unity in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. In an emotional appeal, he pleaded for global unity, as infections surged in many countries. The world has been struggling to check the disastrous spread of the virus for over six months now.

"My friends, make no mistake: The greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was quoted as saying in an emotional speech in Geneva on Thursday. "Rather, it's the lack of leadership and solidarity at the global and national levels."

The appeal is an oblique reference to populist leaders, including US President Donald Trump, who has been a bitter critic of WHO but has not been able to contain the epidemic at home. "This is a tragedy that is forcing us to miss many of our friends, losing many lives. We cannot defeat this pandemic as a divided world," Tedros said.

The US has been daily reporting a record rise in cases. It tops the countries of the world with over three million confirmed cases. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is down with the infection. He has been undermining the severity of the pandemic for months. India recorded its biggest single-day spike in infections on Thursday while the outbreak is spreading rapidly in Mexico. Australia, which had early success in controlling the pandemic, has locked down over 6 million people in Victoria following a surge in Melbourne.

"How is it difficult for humans to unite to fight a common enemy that's killing people indiscriminately?" Tedros said addressing a WHO meeting. "Are we unable to distinguish or identify the common enemy? Can't we understand that the divisions or the cracks between us actually are the advantage for the virus? Covid-19 is a test of global solidarity and global leadership."

The US has withdrawn from the WHO and the decision will be effective from July next year. This move has been flayed by bipartisan lawmakers, advocacy organisations, medical associations and allies. Likely Democratic nominee for presidentship Joe Biden said he would "reverse the decision on (his) first day" if elected.

Though the US has alleged that WHO has been favouring China, the major powers, including Germany, the UK and France have supported the agency.

According to CNN, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the pandemic exposed the dangers of "fact-denying populism" around the world. "We have seen lies and disinformation, and that is no way to fight the pandemic," she told the European Parliament in Brussels.