The Manila-Based Regional Director of WHO Has Been Fired for Abusive Conduct
The World Health Organization has terminated the contract of the director of its Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) for abusive conduct. The WPRO’s headquarters is in Manila.
In a statement issued on Wednesday (March 8), WHO said it has decided to fire Dr. Takeshi Kasai following an investigation into allegations of misconduct it received during the latter half of 2021 and 2022.
“In line with the Organization’s policy of zero tolerance for abusive conduct, the allegations were investigated and subsequently reviewed in accordance with the normal procedures applicable to all WHO staff members,” the statement read. “This included the right of the Regional Director to receive all relevant evidence and respond to the allegations in line with due process. These procedures resulted in findings of misconduct.”
Kasai’s contract as WHO regional director was terminated following a vote by the member states of the WPRO. Kasai was elected to the position in 2019 and has worked at the WHO for over 15 years.
WHO provided no other details about the case, although there have been reports of abusive conduct and racism leveled against Kasai, according to the news platform Health Policy Watch. HPW’s sources said Kasai’s home country of Japan opposed his removal, and was able to gather 11 votes to support its position. However, 13 other countries voted to oust Kasai, which was enough to remove the official.
The WHO statement said the WPRO will be led by acting regional director Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, who has served as Officer-in-Charge of the Western Pacific Region since August 2022. Jakab has served as Deputy Director-General since 2019 and she was previously the WHO Regional Director for Europe.
The process to elect the next regional director will begin in April following standard processes.
The WHO maintains six regional offices, including the one in Manila, around the world.