WHO Western Pacific Director Dr. Takeshi Kasai sacked over claims of racist, abusive and unethical behaviour


The World Health Organization has fired its top official in the Western Pacific Director Dr. Takeshi Kasai after dozens of staff members accused him of racist, abusive and unethical behaviour that may have compromised the U.N. health agency’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In an email sent to employees on Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said ’s appointment had been “terminated” after an internal investigation resulted in “findings of misconduct.”

Associated Press reported that Tedros did not refer to Kasai by name, referencing only his title as regional director in the Western Pacific. It is the first time in WHO’s history that a regional director has been dismissed.

“This has been an unprecedented and challenging journey for all of us,” Tedros wrote. He said that the process of naming a new regional director for the Western Pacific would begin next month, with the election to be held in October.

The Japanese government, which supported Kasai’s nomination for the role, declined to comment. Kasai previously denied acting in a racist or abusive way, saying that although he asked a lot of his staff, his behavior “should not result in people feeling disrespected.”

A summary of the internal WHO investigation presented at a meeting of the agency’s executive board this week in Geneva found Kasai regularly harassed workers in Asia, including engaging in “aggressive communication, public humiliation, (and) making racial comments.”

Senior WHO directors told the organization’s top governing body that Kasai had created a “toxic atmosphere,” that staff members were afraid of retaliation if they spoke out against him and that there was a “lack of trust” in WHO.

The officials also found Kasai manipulated at least one performance evaluation of a subordinate, according to confidential materials obtained by the AP.

Kasai’s removal follows an AP investigation published in January 2022 that revealed more than 30 unidentified WHO staffers sent a written complaint about the director to senior WHO leaders and members of the organization’s executive board.

Documents and recordings showed Kasai made racist remarks to his staff and blamed the rise of COVID-19 in some Pacific countries on their “lack of capacity due to their inferior culture, race and socioeconomic level.”

SOURCE: Associated Press