GENEVA: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has become the first African to head the World Health Organization, faces the towering challenge of coordinating a global pandemic response increasingly complicated by US China tensions.The former Ethiopian minister of health and foreign affairs, Tedros is the first African to head WHO. He finds himself at the heart of global efforts to rein in the novel coronavirus, which has now killed more than 300,000 people and infected close to five million.On Monday, Tedros opens the UN health agency’s main annual event, the World Health Assembly, which due to the pandemic will be held virtually and has been trimmed from the usual three weeks to just two days.Amid the COVID 19 outbreak, Tedros said the event would be “one of the most important (WHAs) since we were founded in 1948”.Countries hope to adopt by consensus a resolution urging a joint response to the crisis, but the efforts have been clouded by steadily deteriorating relations between https://www.jerseysshopcn.com the world’s two largest economies.Trump last week threatened to cut ties with China, where the outbreak began late last year, over its role in the spread of COVID 19, and has repeatedly made unproven allegations that the virus originated in a Chinese lab.Biggest challenge The US president has also ramped up criticism of Tedros and WHO, accusing them of being too close to China and mismanaging the pandemic response.And last month, Trump announced that Washington, the biggest contributor to the UN health agency, would suspend its funding.The pandemic, combined with the threat of lost US funding, clearly constitutes the biggest challenge to date in the WHO director general’s three year tenure.But Tedros, 55, a malaria specialist with degrees from Britain in public health and immunology, and the first person ever elected to the helm of the WHO, should have the legitimacy and strong support to weather the storm.Tedros is renowned for his warmth and a tendency to call everyone from colleagues to world leaders “brother” or “sister”, setting him apart from the famously cool persona of his appointed predecessor, Margaret Chan of China.And his handling of the crisis has drawn widespread praise.”Tedros is the best director general that I have worked with, perhaps since Gro Brundtland,” renowned US epidemiologist Larry Brilliant told AFP, referring to the former Norwegian prime minister who served as WHO chief from 1998 to 2003.”He is an incredibly smart, open, honest, science based man.”‘Politicising’ the pandemic While he always seems to have a smile lurking under his trimmed moustache, Tedros has also revealed a fiery side.After a hefty barrage of criticism from Trump last month, Tedros warned that “if you don’t want many more body bags then you refrain from politicising” the pandemic.During that virtual briefing on April 8, Tedros also revealed that for months he had faced a virulent campaign of abuse against him, including racist comments and death threats. “I don’t give a damn.
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