The director general of the World Health Organization arrived in India on Monday for a visit that comes amid a dispute over India’s Covid-19 death count.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is on a three-day trip to India, where he is scheduled to take part in events with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Gujarat, the Indian leader’s home state.
The New York Times reported last week that Indian officials were delaying the public release of a report by the W.H.O. that found the global death toll of Covid-19 was about 15 million by the end of 2021, more than double the official total of six million reported by countries individually. More than a third of the additional nine million deaths are estimated to have occurred in India, where the government stood by its own count of about 520,000.
The Indian government said in a statement over the weekend in response to the article that it had concerns it has shared with the W.H.O. in formal letters and meetings about the organization’s methodology. “India’s basic objection has not been with the result (whatever they might have been) but rather the methodology adopted for the same,” the federal health ministry said.
Dr. Tedros did not comment directly on the dispute, but he is expected to bring it up with Indian health officials.
On Tuesday, the W.H.O. leader participated in a ceremony to mark the beginning of construction for a traditional medicine center established by the organization and the Indian government.
The center would “help to harness the power of science to strengthen evidence-based traditional medicine,” Dr. Tedros said at the ceremony, adding: “This is truly a global project.”
The W.H.O. says it aims to build evidence for the use of traditional medicine practices to help “countries integrate it as appropriate into their health systems and regulate its quality and safety for optimal and sustainable impact.”