The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it had dismissed one of its senior officials, Temo Waqanivalu, for sexual misconduct after facing at least three allegations against him in recent years. WHO spokesperson Marcia Poole confirmed the dismissal and that the corresponding disciplinary process had been carried out. Although WHO did not provide additional details, media outlets have reported that Waqanivalu, a member of the division of noncommunicable diseases, has been accused of at least three separate cases of alleged sexual misconduct since 2017.
In January, the Associated Press singled out Waqanivalu as a suspect in a widely publicized case of alleged sexual assault during the World Health Summit in Berlin in October of the previous year. A young British doctor, Rosie James, reported on Twitter that she had been sexually assaulted by a WHO staff member during the meeting, prompting an investigation by the U.N. health agency. WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus responded directly to James’ tweet, saying he was “appalled” by the allegations.
WHO has been working to improve its track record in addressing allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct in its organization. WHO is one of many international organizations that have been criticized for failing to adequately address this issue in the past. As such, the organization is committed to taking steps to prevent and address sexual misconduct in its organization and ensure the safety and well-being of its staff.
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