EU calls for serious reform of WHO’s work

EU calls for serious reform of WHO's work

EU calls for serious reform of WHO’s work

The European Union wants the World Health Organization (WHO) to become more transparent about how governments report emerging health crises, the UN agency reform proposal says. Similar sentiments were fueled by criticism of China’s actions on the COVID-19 story.

A special document prepared by the German government following discussions with other bloc states is the result of long-term work that outlines the EU’s plans to address WHO’s funding, governance and legal gaps. 

EU urges WHO to take measures to increase transparency of national compliance with international health regulations. They require WHO Member States to communicate quickly on health emergencies.

The US accused the organization of being too loyal to China in the first phase of the pandemic, when Beijing was in no hurry to share critical information about the new coronavirus that first appeared in Wuhan.

Donald Trump threatened that the country would withdraw from the organization and stop funding.

WHO has repeatedly denied accusations of a special relationship with China. On the European Union proposal, the organization has not yet reacted in any way.

When asked about the document, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian stated that China wants «actively participate» in the reform of WHO, which, he said, should not serve the interests of any one country.

«The reforms should remove any signs of political interference from WHO. It needs to increase its resources and capacity to address global public health crises and strengthen support for developing countries» – he said.

The German government declined to comment on the content of this document as it is still under development..

EU countries are among the largest partners of WHO and will certainly play an even more important economic role if the United States withdraws from it.

The project will be discussed by EU health ministers via videoconference next week and aims to become a common block position ahead of the WHO assembly in mid-November.

At the same time, the document declares support from the EU and emphasizes the central role of the organization in solving world health problems..

However, among the many challenges faced by the UN agency, however, lack of transparency and lack of «understandable and sustainable» financing.

The project also calls for «a more efficient and consistent reporting system of States Parties to the WHO Secretariat».

The document states that mechanisms for assessing countries’ compliance with reporting obligations should be strengthened and become periodic..

The mismatch between the expectations of WHO participants and the capacity of the organization should be addressed as a priority.

Preparations for the review of the pandemic plan by WHO and governments have been under way for several months. Germany has repeatedly called for speeding up this process.

EU health ministers as a whole have already agreed on a common position on the reforms that WHO will need to undertake by videoconference in early October.

Germany wanted «much more ambitious restructuring than many other states», says the report without going into details.

At this meeting, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Geybreyesus told EU ministers that the COVID-19 pandemic should be viewed as a wake-up call, and said the agency was reviewing the rules for engaging with member countries.

Document The EU, which has been prepared since this meeting, also urges WHO to review its methods of notification in health emergencies by adopting «color priority system», which would more accurately convey the severity of the crisis.