UN World Health Organization Staffers Report Racism, Sexism, Corruption

January 18, 2019, 11:26 PM UTC

The World Health Organization is seeing an uptick in internal reports from staffers of misconduct and wrongdoing, and officials at the United Nations’ global health organization say this is a positive sign that things could begin to change within the agency, according to the Associated Press on Friday.

On Thursday, the AP reported that WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus ordered an internal probe to address complaints included in a series of anonymous emails sent to the agency’s top managers over the past year. Some of the complaints sent to the organization’s management centered on accusations of racism and sexism. And some even mention possible corruption, such as one that suggests money earmarked for the Democratic Republic of Congo’s 2018 Ebola outbreak was misspent. (The outbreak began last year but is still ongoing.)

Thursday was a hectic day for the global health organization. It was also when the WHO released its annual list of the year’s top global health threats. In addition to climate change and specific infectious diseases, a new threat appeared on the 2019 list: vaccine hesitancy, which refers to factors such as difficulty of getting to a clinic but also anti-vaccine propaganda that keeps individuals from taking advantage of the availability of potentially life-saving immunizations.