Top World Health Organization (WHO) representative and three other experts coordinating the Coronavirus response in Burundi, have been expelled by the country’s government.
Those expelled include WHO’s representative Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, the country’s Coronavirus coordinator Dr Jean Pierre Mulunda Nkata, communicable diseases head Dr Ruhana Mirindi Bisimwa, and a laboratory expert in the testing for COVID-19, Professor Daniel Tarzy.
In a letter dated May 12 and addressed to WHO’s Africa headquarters, the foreign ministry said the four officials “are declared persona non grata and as such, must leave the territory of Burundi” by Friday May 15.
Though no reason was given for the expulsion, a Burundian official told AFP news agency “It is the whole WHO team responsible for supporting Burundi in its response against COVID-19.”
Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has described the move as “unfortunate” at a time when greater cooperation was needed to tackle the virus on the continent.
Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said;
“We are in dire need of technical expertise as a continent, which has a very weak health system and fragile infrastructure, where we don’t have the luxury of kicking out WHO.”
This is coming days before Burundians are expected to choose a new president, parliamentarians and local officials. The country has officially recorded 27 cases and one death from COVID-19.