News & Politics

Who Is WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus?

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO at a special UN Broadband Commission Dinner, Yale Club, New York (via Wikipedia)

As calls mount demanding the Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) resign, one might be forgiven for asking: Who is the head of the WHO? Where did Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus come from, and what qualifies him to lead the WHO?

As WHO continues to respond to the global coronavirus pandemic that originated in Wuhan, China, the agency has faced increased criticism for its coddling of the communist Xi Xinpeng regime. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has had particularly harsh criticism for WHO:

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has also joined the chorus, retweeting President Trump’s speculation that the U.S. should reexamine its funding of the WHO:

Many have questioned why the WHO has repeatedly praised China’s response to the pandemic it caused. The director, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has come under increased scrutiny not only for his questionable response to the pandemic itself, but also for his background, which could go a long way toward explaining why he seems so sympathetic to communist China.

The Washington Free Beacon reported last week:

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who goes by Dr. Tedros—though he is not a medical doctor—has repeatedly lauded China’s measures to contain the virus despite mounting evidence the communist regime has been less than forthcoming with the international community. A classified U.S. intelligence report recently concluded China lied about its internal spread and death toll.

In a fawning interview in November 2019, Time wrote that Dr. Tedros has focused on climate change as his greatest priority:

It should come as no surprise that the man at the helm of the world’s leading global health organization–after a decade serving as Minister of Health, then Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia–is laser-focused on the issues that keep the public-health community up at night: child and maternal mortality; climate change; infectious-disease outbreaks; emergency preparedness; and, most of all, that “half of the world’s population doesn’t have access to essential services.” That’s why Tedros is committed to the WHO’s goal of helping every country implement universal health coverage by 2030, calling on every nation, no matter how rich or poor, to put an additional 1% of its gross domestic product toward primary health care. “All roads lead to universal health coverage,” Tedros tells me before we leave the WHO’s offices. “It’s when we have strong health systems in each and every country that the world becomes safe. We’re as strong as the weakest link.”

Tedros believes universal health care is a fundamental human right. But from his perspective, it’s also a logical political selling point: it keeps people out of poverty and strengthens economies; helps prevent and contain epidemics (like the Ebola outbreak raging in the Democratic Republic of Congo for more than a year), keeping an increasingly globalized world safe from unchecked spread of disease; and it can lessen racial, socioeconomic and gender disparities by securing better care for vulnerable populations.

It may come as no surprise, then, that Tedros has a long history of activism, political ambition, and organizational involvement in a socialist political party in his home country of Eritrea. That party, however, is more than a simple revolutionary socialist political party.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), has been labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. The TPLF was on the front lines of Ethiopia’s civil war. That war ended in 1991 with a new repressive socialist government replacing the previous socialist dictatorship backed by the Soviet Union. In a 2014 memo, the Department of Homeland Security describes the TPLF:

The TPLF is a political group founded in 1975 in Ethiopia, as an opposition group. The TPLF engaged in prolonged armed conflict with the government of Ethiopia, which, along with other groups, it succeeded in overthrowing in 1991. The TPLF then joined the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a political coalition that became the governing coalition in Ethiopia. The EPRDF continues to control the government of Ethiopia. The TPLFqualifies as a Tier III terrorist organization under INA section 212(a)(3)(B)(vi)(III) on the basis of its violent activities before it became part of the ruling coalition and the government of Ethiopia in May 1991.

Incidentally, that memo, issued by the Obama administration, relaxed the restrictions on immigration and asylum for members of the TPLF.

The TPLF played a prominent role in the Ethiopian famine of the mid-1980s:

In 1975 the Tigray (Tigrayan) People’s Liberation Front began a protracted rebellion against the military government. The conflict aggravated a disastrous drought and famine between 1984 and 1985, which the government tried to ameliorate by forcibly relocating hundreds of thousands of peasants to well-watered regions in the south and west. An international outcry led to the suspension of that program, but by then it had led to the deaths of some 100,000 people, and hundreds of thousands more sought refuge from civil war and famine in Sudan and Djibouti. Tigray forces liberated the region in 1989 and supported the overthrow of the Ethiopian national government in 1991. Their victory resulted in the replacement of an Amhara-dominated government with one led by Tigray leaders, a source of continuing conflict throughout the 1990s. Another source of conflict was disagreement regarding the border demarcation between Ethiopia and neighbouring Eritrea, with both countries claiming areas in Tigray. Conflict over the issue persisted into the 21st century.

From the Time interview, it becomes clear that controversy has followed Tedros throughout his governmental appointments and campaigns:

Tedros built his reputation as a malariologist before becoming Ethiopia’s Minister of Health in 2005, then its Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2012. While Minister of Health, Tedros was widely praised for building a female-focused primary-care system that deployed 38,000 community-health workers throughout the country, easing the nation’s health care shortage and helping to reduce maternal and child mortality by about 60% each, compared with 2000. Still, his time in Ethiopia was not without conflict: the country had an abysmal human-rights record during his tenure in government, and while campaigning to become the WHO’s Director-General in 2017, Tedros was accused by opponents of covering up cholera outbreaks in his home country. (He denied that charge then, and continues to do so today. “They knew during the campaign they were losing ground, so they had to try their last try to discredit it,” he says now.)

Tedros inherited a big job when, in July 2017, he became the WHO’s first African Director-General in its 69-year history. He took over shortly after the end of a brutal West African Ebola outbreak that many critics argued could have been minimized had the WHO done a better job of containing infection at the beginning. Two years in, Tedros’ job hasn’t gotten much easier. Ebola is back again, this time in the Congo.

The article goes on to note that Tedros appointed Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, of all people, as an ambassador of goodwill for the WHO.

He’s facing withering criticism as his performance comes under greater scrutiny worldwide. In an op-ed in The Hill on March 17, Bradley Thayer and Lianchao Han wrote that Tedros has bungled the WHO response to COVID-19:

The World Health Organization (WHO) last week finally declared the coronavirus from China that rapidly spread across the world a pandemic. Now, with more than 150,000 confirmed cases globally and more than 5,700 deaths, the question is why it took so long for the WHO to perceive what many health officials and governments had identified far earlier.

We believe the organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, like China’s Xi Jinping, should be held accountable for recklessly managing this deadly pandemic. Tedros apparently turned a blind eye to what happened in Wuhan and the rest of China and, after meeting with Xi in January, has helped China to play down the severity, prevalence and scope of the COVID-19 outbreak.

They describe the close ties between Tedros and the Xi regime, calling Ethiopia “East Africa’s ‘Little China'”:

But we note China’s connections to Tedros’s homeland of Ethiopia, now called East Africa’s “Little China” because it has become China’s bridgehead to influence Africa and a key to China’s Belt and Road initiative there. Indeed, China has invested heavily in Ethiopia.

Tedros was elected to his position with the WHO in 2017, despite the fact that he was not trained as a medical doctor and had no global health management experience. A former minister of health and minister of foreign affairs for Ethiopia, Tedros is an executive member of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) political party, which came to power through a struggle in 1991 and has been listed as a perpetrator in the Global Terrorism Database.

In a press briefing two weeks after the declaration of a pandemic, Tedros appeared to cover his previous missteps by stating that the rate of spread had unexpectedly accelerated:

He added that it’s essential for the world’s wealthiest nations to work together to combat the virus, a comment that seemed aimed at a growing feud between the United States and China.

President Trump in recent days has increasingly sought to blame China for the spread of the virus, while Chinese officials have spread baseless rumors about the United States.

“We need unity in the G-20 countries,” Tedros said Monday, referring to the Group of 20. “Political commitment at the G-20 level means a very strong solidarity that can help us to move forward and fight this pandemic in the strongest terms possible.”

Given Tedros’ naked apologies for communist China, his involvement in a terrorist organization and later a government with a terrible record on human rights, his lack of qualifications, and his coverup activities in place of decisive action, it’s no wonder that the Trump administration has strongly considered cutting funding for the WHO. After all, the WHO hasn’t changed its policies under Tedros. Tedros simply reflects the membership of the WHO and UN that increasingly advocate for world government in place of national sovereignty, and a command economy over market forces.

Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available now at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff.