The World Health Organization has been on the front lines of the corona pandemic since word of a novel coronavirus starting coming out of China in January. The Ethiopian head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is a microbiologist who has been leading the organization since 2017.
He is the first African to hold the position.
This week, Ghebreyesus revealed that he’s been getting death threats while at the helm of the organization, reported CNBC.com.
“I can tell you personal attacks that have been going on for more than two, three months. Abuses, or racist comments, giving me names, Black or Negro. I’m proud of being Black, proud of being Negro,” he said on a conference call from Geneva where WHO has its headquarters.
“I don’t care, to be honest … even death threats. I don’t give a damn.”
He did single out Taiwan as a source of some of the insulting rhetoric, to which the Taiwanese president, Tsai Ing-wen, said were “baseless.” She asked that Ghebreyesus apologize and then invited him to her country.
Ghebreyesus was also critical of suggestions made by scientists on French television that a vaccine should be first tried out in Africa. He said it reflected a “colonialist” mentality and insulted the entire Black community.
The WHO leader said he hoped that countries could come together and leave differing ideologies and political differences behind to combat the virus.
“Please quarantine COVID politics. That’s what we want. We don’t care about personal attacks,” he said. “We care about the life passing every single minute unnecessarily because we couldn’t unite to fight this virus.”