Reforms needed in WHO

  • IASbaba
  • May 14, 2021
  • 0
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  • 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

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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:

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