An independent inquiry commission released a devastating report last month that found that 83 of the WHO's employees committed abuses against dozens of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo during 2018-2020.

There will be no opportunity for sexual exploitation to occur, no impunity if it does and
There will be no opportunity for sexual exploitation to occur, no impunity if it does and "no tolerance for inaction," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. (AP)

The World Health Organization has issued its plan to prevent any further misconduct by aid workers deployed in its field operations after WHO staff were caught up in a major sexual abuse scandal in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The plan, published on Thursday, outlines immediate action that includes support for victims and launch of a series of audits.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus vowed to ensure that the affair and the victims' suffering would be "the catalyst for a profound transformation of WHO's culture," in his introductory statement to the plan.

There will be no opportunity for sexual exploitation to occur, no impunity if it does and "no tolerance for inaction," he added.

The agency also allocated an initial $7.6 million (6.5 million euros) to strengthen its capacity to prevent, detect and respond to allegations of sexual assault in 10 countries, including Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Venezuela.

READ MORE: Negligent WHO staff blamed for sexual abuse in DRC

Investigation into the scandal

Some 83 aid workers, a quarter of them employed by the WHO, were involved in sexual exploitation and abuse during the country's massive Ebola epidemic from 2018-2020, an independent commission said last month.

"WHO is requesting UN OIOS (Office of Internal Oversight Services) to carry out a review of, and where necessary, further investigation into all cases of alleged SEA (sexual exploitation and abuse) identified by the Independent Commission, including those in which they identified an alleged WHO perpetrator," the statement said.

A separate team of external investigators will oversee an inquiry into "alleged managerial misconduct in respect of failure to initiate investigation procedures", it said.

The WHO had already terminated the contracts of four staff identified as perpetrators and was referring allegations to Congolese authorities for criminal proceedings, Jasarevic said.

Major donors, led by the United States and European Union, have urged WHO to launch a deeper external investigation demanding how the scandal was allowed to happen, diplomats told Reuters last week.

"WHO will investigate potential acts of negligence by senior staff that may amount to misconduct as recommended by the independent commission," agency spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told a UN news briefing on Friday.

READ MORE: Countries urge WHO to speed up DRC sex abuse allegations probe

Source: TRTWorld and agencies