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WHO official ignores second request to appear before health committee

Bruce Aylward has ignored a second request by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health to testify.

The World Health Organization’s Bruce Aylward has ignored a second request by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health to testify on the agency’s handling of the coronavirus.

Instead of flying to Ottawa to testify, the WHO sent a lawyer in his place to notify the committee that they could send written questions to the organization directly, according to the Globe and Mail. 

“Over the past weeks, WHO has received requests for information from several different governments, parliamentary bodies and officials. With a view to facilitating the work of the committee, WHO has offered to consider any list of technical questions from the committee,” WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told the Globe and Mail. 

Aylward, who is a Canadian citizen, first shirked his duty to testify once called upon by cancelling his appearance at the last minute earlier this month. 

In a statement published online, Conservative MP and health critic Matt Jeneroux called the move “unacceptable.” 

“Dr. Aylward decided not to appear before the committee at the last minute and did not offer to be rescheduled for a later meeting. This is unacceptable,” wrote Jeneroux. 

“There is no doubt that the WHO has been slow to recommend concrete measures, negatively impacting Canada’s response to the virus. The WHO has back-tracked on every position they have taken, meaning the Canadian government has back-tracked as well.”

Aylward is not only known for ignoring requests to appear before parliamentary committees but also for apparently ignoring reporters’ questions on Taiwan. 

In a widely shared video interview with the Hong Kong outlet RTHK, Aylward is seen not responding to repeat questions regarding Taiwan’s membership in the UN body. 

After claiming that he had not heard the question initially, Aylward tells the reporter “no, that’s OK, let’s move to another one then,” after she asks him the question again before apparently pulling the plug on the video conference. 

Critics of the WHO have accused the organization of kowtowing to the Chinese Communist Party and initially spreading false information about the severity of the coronavirus. 

One tweet by the WHO from January 14 spread the false claim by Chinese officials that there was no “human-to-human transmission,” despite warnings from Taiwan that it had been detected. 

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