Petition demanding resignation of WHO head nears quarter-million signatures

Nearly 250,000 people in 4 days sign petition calling on Director-General Adhanom to resign

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(Screenshot of Change.org petition)

(Screenshot of Change.org petition)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A petition demanding the resignation of the World Health Organization's (WHO) director-general has garnered nearly a quarter of a million signatures as people around the world voice their dissatisfaction with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus' handling of the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic.

On Jan. 31, a netizen named Osuka Yip started a petition titled "Call for the resignation of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General" on Change.org, citing Adhanom's refusal on Jan. 23 to designate the Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) a global health emergency, which the author said was partially to blame for the number of infected increasing more than tenfold from 800 to more than 10,000 over the next five days.

"We strongly think Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is not fit for his role as WHO Director General. We call for the Immediate Resignation of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus," the petition reads.

It goes on to lament that despite the WHO's supposed commitment to neutrality, Adhanom has taken the numbers of infected provided by China at face value. The vast majority of coronavirus infections have occurred in the communist country, which as of the time of writing has counted 20,438 infections, a number widely believed to be grossly underreported, with 425 confirmed deaths.

In the emergency meetings convened by the WHO to decide whether to declare an international emergency, China reportedly pushed attending ambassadors of affected nations not to support such a declaration, hammering home the point that it has what it takes to contain the outbreak.

After meeting with Xi Jinping (習近平) and other Chinese officials, the director-general lauded the country's efforts, saying, "[China's] actions actually helped prevent the spread of coronavirus to other countries" and that he was “very impressed and encouraged by the president’s detailed knowledge of the outbreak,” reported Stat. The specialized United Nations agency declared a global emergency on Jan. 30 as the virus continued to spread beyond China's borders.

The petition also pointed out that Taiwan continues to be denied access to the WHO due to continued Chinese pressure: "Taiwan should not be excluded from the WHO for any political reasons. Their technologies are far more advanced than some of the countries on the 'selected WHO list.'"

From 2009 to 2016, Taiwan was able to take part in the WHO's yearly World Health Assembly as an observer, but following the election of independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in 2016, the island nation has been not been invited to return in any capacity. However, a growing number of world leaders, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have called for Taiwan to be allowed back into the fold.

The petition reached its 100,000-signature target in just two days and more than doubled in the two days since. As of 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday (Feb. 4), it had accumulated more than 245,000 names.

Those wishing to sign the petition can click here.

Many of those who signed the petition have expressed a lack of faith in the WHO chief and the global body as a whole:

"He did not take a neutral stance on this issue."

"Health issues should never be political. The fact that he is swayed by politics and not science & disease control goes against everything WHO stands for."

"WHO is now CHOW. This organization can't provide any true information anymore."

"Because of his stupid advice, he made the Wuhan virus spread to the world."

"Misled the prevention information for wuhan coronavirus he should be responsible for it."