WHO Fires Doctor Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations

(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for Clinton Global Initiative)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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The World Health Organization (WHO) fired a doctor in the running for a key leadership position after allegations of sexual misconduct, The Associated Press first reported.

Dr. Temo Waqanivalu, a Fijian doctor who led a noncommunicable diseases team at the organization, was dismissed after an investigation revealed a history of sexual misconduct, a WHO spokesperson said to The AP in an email early Thursday. Waqanivalu was accused of sexually assaulting a woman at a conference in Berlin last fall, The AP first reported in January.

“Sexual misconduct of any kind by anyone working for WHO — be it as staff, consultant, partner — is unacceptable,” WHO spokesperson Marcia Poole said.

Waqanivalu was also accused of sexual harassment in 2018, according to internal documents seen by The AP, but WHO officials only gave him an informal slap on the wrist after being alerted to the situation. The accuser was apparently told that lobbying for a formal investigation of Waqanivalu might not be worthwhile. (RELATED: World Health Organization Finally Calls Out China For Lying About COVID-19)

The Fijian was preparing to run for the position of regional director for the Western Pacific, according to The AP. That office was vacated after the previous regional director, Dr. Takeshi Kasai, was ousted due to allegations of racial misconduct from subordinates.

Waqanivalu categorically denied the allegations to WHO investigators and declined to comment when contacted by The AP.