WHO sacks Western Pacific chief accused of racism, misconduct

Tokyo, Mar 9 (EFE).- The World Health Organization (WHO) has sacked the Japanese head of its Western Pacific office after allegations of misconduct, racist and abusive behavior.

“In line with the organization’s policy of zero tolerance for abusive conduct, the allegations were investigated,” a statement from the Geneva-based United Nations health agency.

The probe “resulted in findings of misconduct,” said the statement.

“After careful consideration of the findings, and following consultation with the regional committee for the Western Pacific and the executive board, the regional director’s appointment has been terminated.”

The WHO did not name Takeshi Kasai in the statement about his termination.

The process to appoint the next head for the Western Pacific of the WHO office will begin in April 2023.

The new regional director will be announced in October for a five-year term.

Until the new chief takes office, the WHO named Zsuzsanna Jakab, who has served as Officer-in-Charge of the Western Pacific Region since August 2022, as the acting regional director.

Jakab has been serving as deputy director-general since 2019. She was previously the WHO Regional Director for Europe.

The Japanese government noted it maintained “the position of supporting the policy of zero tolerance against racism and abuse.”

Government spokesperson Hirokazu Matsuno declined to offer more comments said on the case.

The investigations into Kasai, stationed at the Manila office of the health agency, began after a journalistic investigation by the Dutch newspaper NRC into allegations of abuse of power, nepotism, and racism by its directors, especially in the Western Office.

Among the documents the media outlet accessed was a written complaint by a group of employees and former employees.

They spoke of an untenable situation, saying they had grown fearful of his alleged dictatorial management.

The complaint claimed that Kasai’s policies might have hindered the agency’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, contributing “substantially to an increase in (coronavirus) cases in many countries in the region.” EFE


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