WHO put Chief Director on leave due to accusations of Racism and Abuse

The Chief Director of the World Health Organization for the Western Pacific, Dr. Takeshi Kasai, was removed from office indefinitely, according to internal correspondence obtained by the Associated Press.

Kasai’s removal comes months after an AP investigation revealed dozens of staff members accused him of racist, abusive and unethical behavior that undermined the UN agency’s efforts to stop the coronavirus pandemic. in Asia.

On Friday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told staff in the Western Pacific in an email that Kasai was “on leave” without further processing. Tedros said the deputy general manager, Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, was due to arrive on Tuesday in Manila, the WHO regional headquarters, to “guarantee business continuity”. Two senior WHO officials who asked not to be identified because they were not allowed to speak to the press said Kasai was placed on extended administrative leave after internal investigators justified some of the misconduct allegations.

In a statement, the WHO said it was not known how long Kasai would stay. The UN health agency said the investigation into him was ongoing and it was the first time a regional director had been relieved of his duties. Kasai did not respond to requests for comment but has previously denied using racist language or acting unprofessionally.

In January, the AP reported that more than 30 unidentified staff had sent a confidential complaint to senior WHO officials and members of the organization’s board, alleging that Kasai had created a ” toxic atmosphere” in WHO offices across the Western Pacific. Documents and records showed that Kasai made racist remarks towards his staff and attributed the rise of COVID-19 in some Pacific countries to their “lack of capacity due to their culture, race and socio-level”. -lower economics”. Several WHO staff working under Kasai said he inappropriately shared sensitive information about coronavirus vaccines to help his home country of Japan score political points with his donations. .

Days after the AP report, WHO chief Tedros announced that an internal investigation into Kasai had begun. However, several months later, WHO officials said Kasai manipulated the investigation. In a letter to the highest governing body of the United Nations, the Governing Council, in April, staff members wrote that Kasai had instructed senior executives to destroy all incriminating documents and instructed IT personnel to “check email of all staff members “.

Kasai is a Japanese doctor who began his career in his country’s public health system before moving to WHO, where he worked for over 15 years.

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