you're reading...
Economic and Social Policies, International Relations, PUBLICATIONS

World Health Organization: Is it fit for purpose?

Written by Martin Russell,

© Ricochet64 / Adobe Stock

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19, the disease resulting from the novel coronavirus SARS-COV2, a pandemic on 11 March 2020, putting the United Nations (UN) agency in the global spotlight. The WHO is coordinating international efforts to fight the virus, for example by issuing guidelines on preventing and treating the disease, and coordinating research into testing and vaccines.

Critics argue that the WHO was overly accommodating of China, and as a result failed to handle the pandemic effectively in its early stages. According to them, the WHO too readily accepted Chinese reassurances that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission. The WHO also failed to hold China to account for its initial cover-up, and even praised its transparency.

Even before coronavirus, the WHO already had a mixed track record, including, on the one hand, successful eradication of smallpox, and on the other, a delayed response to the West African Ebola epidemic of 2014, which may have cost thousands of lives. Its failures, both in the Covid-19 pandemic and in previous health crises, highlight long-standing problems: the agency is weak, underfunded, and its complex organisational structure can get in the way of effective action. Underlying such weaknesses is the fact that the WHO is entirely dependent on cooperation from its member states and can only act within the limits set by them.

While Covid-19 has highlighted many of the WHO’s weaknesses, it is also a reminder that diseases respect no borders, and that the organisation’s task of global coordination has become more necessary than ever.

Read the complete briefing on ‘World Health Organization: Is it fit for purpose?‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Download the EPRS App

EPRS App on Google Play
EPRS App on App Store
What Europe Does For You
EU Legislation in Progress
Topical Digests
EPRS Podcasts

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,505 other followers

RSS Link to Members’ Research Service

Disclaimer and Copyright statement

The content of all documents (and articles) contained in this blog is the sole responsibility of the author and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily represent the official position of the European Parliament. It is addressed to the Members and staff of the EP for their parliamentary work. Reproduction and translation for non-commercial purposes are authorised, provided the source is acknowledged and the European Parliament is given prior notice and sent a copy.

For a comprehensive description of our cookie and data protection policies, please visit Terms and Conditions page.

Copyright © European Union, 2014-2019. All rights reserved.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: