- GS-2: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
Reforms needed in WHO
Context: Recently, a report released by an independent panel co-chaired by former New Zealand PM Helen Clark linked the severity of the global outbreak to deficiencies across governments, the WHO and other multilateral organisations.
Issues raised by the Panel
- Late warning: In the first weeks of the pandemic, the WHO could have warned countries to assume that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was spreading among people, as a precaution
- Late Declaration of Pandemic: WHO also could have declared the outbreak in Wuhan, China, a public health emergency of international concern — the highest level of global alert — earlier by at least January 22, 2020.
- Weak Body: The WHO should have the power to investigate outbreaks speedily, with guaranteed rights of access and with the ability to publish information without waiting for a member state’s approval (China)
- A month of lost opportunity: Most countries failed to heed the warning, choosing to “wait and see,” rather than take firmer measures that could have contained the virus.
- Need for greater role by International Organisations: WHO and WTO should help broker an agreement among major vaccine-producing countries and manufacturers on voluntary licensing and transferring vaccine technology to third parties.
- Need for specialised Council: The panel also called for the creation of a Global Health Threats Council that will maintain political commitment to pandemic preparedness and response and hold actors accountable
- A Pandemic Framework Convention within six months was recommended by the Panel to address gaps in international regulations, and to clarify responsibilities between states and international organisations
- Changes in Financing: An international pandemic-financing facility is needed that is capable of disbursing $5 billion to $10 billion a year for preparedness and $50 billion to $100 billion in the event of a crisis
- The panel also recommended single, seven-year term for the WHO director-general and regional directors.
Covid-19 is the 21st century’s Chernobyl moment — not because a disease outbreak is like a nuclear accident, but because it has shown so clearly the gravity of the threat to our health and well-being.
Connecting the dots: