The allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by aid workers, who identified themselves as working for the World Health Organization (WHO) Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are deeply horrific and heartbreaking.
All my life as a woman, doctor, leader, mother and health worker, I have fought against gender inequality, as well as sexual harassment and abuse. When I became WHO Regional Director for Africa, I committed to advancing women’s careers and interests in the workplace and robustly addressing sexual harassment.
I stand with anyone who has fallen victim to sexual violation during the Ebola response in the eastern DRC.
I strongly support WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ decision to initiate a thorough review of the allegations. I will do everything I can to contribute and ensure that a full, fair and transparent investigation takes place within the shortest possible time and that any perpetrators of these revolting acts face serious consequences. I will work with my colleagues in the region to safeguard the vulnerable in all our future operations.
Furthermore, I commit to working with Dr Tedros to ensure that any flaws identified by investigators in our mechanism for reporting sexual abuse and exploitation are corrected and that we create an environment that prevents such violations from taking place in our operations.