AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) the largest global AIDS organization and world’s largest provider of HIV/AIDS care reiterates, called on United Nations (UN) Member States not to reappoint World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom to a second term.
AHF made the call following a recent independent financial audit of the World Health Organization (WHO). The audit has revealed “an increasing trend of cases of misconduct, especially relating to fraud, harassment, non-compliance to professional standards and sexual misconduct.”
AHF has issued statements titled “Six Reasons Why WHO Chief Should Go” and “Ten Ways WHO Catastrophically Failed the World,” which outline additional arguments for not re-appointing Tedros to a second term as WHO Director-General once his appointment concludes at the end of 2021.
“We are astounded by the findings of the WHO audit. Financial malfeasance involving millions of taxpayer dollars is egregious enough, but when it’s happening in the middle of a pandemic, when millions of people are dying because they can’t get a vaccine, it’s nothing short of an outrage”.
The Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India conducted the WHO audit for the 2020 financial year. It revealed that WHO signed consultancy contracts totaling 332.79 million USD. Among the numerous financial irregularities documented in the audit, the auditor cited an instance where the WHO bypassed its financial procedures and altered tender evaluation criteria, allowing it to award a 2.5 million USD contract to a less qualified consultancy firm.
According to the audit, the consulting firm which received the tender was engaged to assist the WHO with purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE). The auditor concluded that this constituted a conflict of interest, because the firm also provided assistance to the PPE supplier.
The audit findings underscored ongoing governance challenges within the WHO and a lack of transparency in its operations.
“We are astounded by the findings of the WHO audit. Financial malfeasance involving millions of taxpayer dollars is egregious enough, but when it’s happening in the middle of a pandemic, when millions of people are dying because they can’t get a vaccine, it is nothing short of an outrage,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “This happened on Tedros’ watch while he was pleading with Member States for more funding. What little credibility remained with the WHO leadership following disastrous missteps in handling COVID-19 has now gone out the window with this scathing audit and millions of dollars in useless consulting contracts. Without a doubt, WHO needs a new trustworthy leader?”
Other key findings highlighted by the auditor included deficiencies in the quality assurance and technical evaluation of PPE procured on an emergency basis, a lack of bid objectivity in the procurement of COVID-19 test kits, inadequate procurement documentation, and a lack of supplier performance evaluation, among other issues.