A renowned British expert on global health has said he did not recognize the remarks made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who attacked the World Health Organization (WHO) during his visit to Britain.
According to British media reports Tuesday, Pompeo launched an extraordinary attack on the WHO during a private meeting with MPs in London, claiming it “is a political, not a science-based organisation” and its Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was “bought” by the Chinese government, Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday.
David Nabarro, the British candidate who ran against Tedros for the role of WHO director-general in 2017, told The Daily Telegraph that he has been working with Tedros on COVID-19 since January 31.
“In all the time that I’ve worked with him since then I’ve seen him being fair-minded and responsive to all nations, and concentrating on what matters the most, which is getting on top of this pandemic,” he was quoted by the British newspaper as saying.
“I just don’t recognize the kind of remarks made by the US Secretary of State,” he added.
Having over 40 years of experience in international public health as a community-based practitioner, public servant, director and diplomat, Nabarro is now working as a special envoy of the WHO director-general on COVID-19 preparedness and response. He is also currently co-director and chair of global health at the Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London.
He added that it was imperative that all countries worked together to fight the massive global catastrophe of COVID-19 and he could not understand why the United States was withdrawing its support to the WHO “just at the time when the world needs it most”, the newspaper reported.
Reacting to Pompeo’s remarks in London, a WHO spokesperson said: “WHO is not aware of any such statement but we strongly reject any ad hominem attacks and unfounded allegations. WHO urges countries to remain focused on tackling the pandemic that is causing tragic loss of life and suffering,” said the newspaper.
Earlier this month, the United States formally notified the WHO it was quitting, despite widespread criticism and an almost complete lack of international support for the move in the midst of a pandemic.
The Guardian newspaper said it is believed that Pompeo was trying to encourage British lawmakers to lobby for Britain to consider joining the ranks of the United States.
However, Chris Bryant, one of two Labour MPs present in the private meeting with Pompeo, told the Guardian “he said nothing that appealed to our side”.