WHO fires Director for Misconduct
The World Health Organization (WHO) fires Takeshi Kasai, their now former Regional Director of Western Pacific, on Wednesday. For an organization that promotes safety and connection among nations, Kasai was the opposite. Dozens of staff members reported Kasai of being racist, abusive, and displaying unethical behavior.
The buildup to his removal started with an Associated Press Investigation published in January 2022. 30 anonymous staff members sent written complaints to top executives of WHO leadership. The last WHO official to be fired was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo 2019 related to sexual abuse.
The termination comes as a quick turn of the page for WHO before the 2024 Presidential Elections in October. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebrreyesus did not address Kasai by name in his dismissal. The Japanese government declined to comment after his firing. Despite Kasai’s denial of unacceptable behavior, workers are swift to move on. His departure feels like a good riddance.
Senior WHO directors describe Kasai’s leadership as “toxic”. Reports from AP shows that he harassed workers on a consistent basis. He instilled fear in a way that caused his subordinates “public humiliation”, while disrespected with racist and aggressive comments. The retaliation for speaking out kept problems internal, so they didn’t show a lack of trust in him.
“This has been an unprecedented and challenging journey for all of us, ” Tedro states.
In addition to Kasai’s unethical leadership, he has made public statements relating COVID-19 to race and socioeconomic status. Most notably, he’s pointed fingers to Pacific countries for the rise of the virus.
To wipe the slate clean of abuse from leadership for WHO is never easy. Findings and hidden reports have come from beneath the surface while it continues to question the reoccurring problem of misconduct in leadership.
“Making decisions on high level cases such as the one on Dr. Kasai is not enough,” says Javier Guzman of the Center of Global Development.. “WHO and Dr. Tedros should do better to guarantee that the zero-tolerance policy is real.”
Featured Image by AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File