WHO Director Accused of Racism and Abuse

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said Thursday that it is looking into allegations against the top director of the WHO Western Pacific of racist, unethical, and abusive behavior.

The Associated Press (AP) reported that allegations were laid out in an internal complaint filed in October and again in an email last week, sent by unidentified “concerned WHO staff” to senior leadership and the executive board.

According to the report, two of the authors said more than 30 staffers were involved in writing it, and that it reflected the experiences of more than 50 people.

The internal complaint and the email described a “toxic atmosphere” with “a culture of systemic bullying and public ridiculing” at WHO’s Western Pacific headquarters in Manila, led by Dr. Takeshi Kasai of Japan. 

The AP also said it obtained recorded snippets of meetings where Kasai is heard making derogatory remarks about his staff based on nationality.

“It is true that I have been hard on staff, but I reject the suggestion that I have targeted staff of any particular nationality,” Kazai said. 

“Racism goes against all of the principles and values I hold dear as a person… I believe deeply and sincerely in WHO’s mission to serve all countries and people,” Kazai added.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government said it would watch the WHO’s investigation but denied it inappropriately received sensitive vaccine information from Kazai as claimed by the staff in their complaints.

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