REPORT: Staff At WHO Office Accuse Top Official Of Being Authoritarian Who ‘Significantly Contributed’ To COVID Case Surge

(Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
Font Size:

A top staffer at the World Health Organization (WHO) is reportedly accused of being a racist, abusive boss who leaked sensitive information about vaccines.

Former and current staffers at the United Nations agency filed an internal complaint in October against Dr. Takeshi Kasai, the WHO’s director in the Western Pacific region, according to the Associated Press. Kasai is accused of creating a “toxic atmosphere” of “systemic bullying and public ridiculing” at the regional headquarters in Manila, Philippines.

An additional email of complaints was reportedly sent last week by two authors, who said there were more than 30 staffers involved in writing it, and that it represented the difficulties of more than 50 workers at the headquarters, which governs a region stretching from China, Japan and South Korea in the north down to Australia and the pacific island region.

The AP reported it obtained recordings of Kasai making negative comments toward staffers based on their nationalities, and eleven current or former subordinates of his said he often used racist language. More than 55 staffers have been driven out of the organization by Kasai’s abusive leadership style, the email alleged. They said the failure to replace these workers led to a reduced efficacy in working with member countries, which “significantly contributed” to a surge of COVID-19 cases in the region.

Additionally, Kasai is accused of sharing possibly sensitive information about COVID-19 vaccines with his home country of Japan. Kasai denied any allegations of racism or unethical actions in an email to the AP, but an internal message from the agency reportedly shows Kasai ordering his workers to deny the accusations in the complaints and to “totally support” him. (RELATED: WHO Admits It Skipped Over ‘Xi Variant’ To Avoid ‘Causing Offence’)

Among the specific allegations against Kasai are that he once asked a staffer if she was “incapable of delivering good presentations because she was Filipina” and that he attributed an increase in COVID-19 cases in some countries to their “inferior culture, race and socioeconomic level.”

His staff also accused him of failing to stand up to China during the pandemic. He reportedly would not reveal what happened during a trip to meet President Xi Jinping in Beijing in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, and staff accused him of “not daring to criticize the Chinese authorities.”

Workers at the Manila headquarters were also allegedly forced to violate the WHO’s own COVID-19 guidelines during the pandemic by Kasai, including by continuing to work in the office when some staffers tested positive for the virus, car-pooling with fellow employees and sharing desks.

The authors of the email reportedly said they had exhausted the WHO’s formal reporting mechanisms, with nothing to show for it. (RELATED: REPORT: Biden Admin Follows Trump Lead, Turns Against World Health Organization Funding Proposal)

In an email statement, the WHO told the AP that it was “aware of the allegations and is taking all appropriate steps to follow up on the matter.”