as such Corona Virus The epidemic continues to spread, World Health Organization He finds himself under intense pressure to reform as he holds out hope that US President-elect Joe Biden will reverse Washington’s decision to leave the health agency.
With its annual meeting taking place this week, the WHO has come under severe criticism for not playing a stronger and more outspoken role in dealing with the pandemic.
For example, in private internal meetings in the early days of the virus, senior scientists described the curricula of some countries as an “unfortunate laboratory to study the virus” and a “terrible” opportunity to find out what worked, and the records obtained by the Associated Press. But publicly, the UN health agency has praised governments for their responses.
Biden promised to rescind President Trump’s decision, which in June severed the US from the agency and redirected WHO funds to “US global health priorities,” the Lancet reported. The World Health Organization has also complied with requests from member states to form an independent committee to review its management in response to the epidemic, and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday that the agency welcomes “any and all attempts” to strengthen it “for the sake of the people we serve.”
One of the central dilemmas facing the World Health Organization is that it does not have the powers or enforcement authority to independently investigate within countries. Instead, the health agency relies on behind-the-scenes talks and member state cooperation.
Critics say the WHO’s traditional aversion to confronting its member states has come at a heavy price. With the spread of COVID-19, the WHO has often shied away from country recall, with major donors such as Japan, France and Britain making frequent mistakes, according to dozens of leaked recordings of meetings and internal WHO documents from January to April obtained by The Associated Press.
Some public health experts say the WHO’s failure to exert influence has given credence to countries adopting risky outbreak policies, which could weaken efforts to stop the virus.
“We need the WHO to be bold and to use its political power to name and shame because the consequences are so dire,” said Sophie Harman, professor of international politics at Queen Mary University of London. “This is the moment of the Spanish flu … By not speaking out when countries do questionable things, the WHO is undermining its authority while the planet burns.”
Others said it would be politically unwise for the WHO to be too explicit unless states give the agency more power and capacity to blame states – an option that Germany and France recently proposed.
“If Tedros takes a very aggressive stance towards member states, there will be repercussions,” said Swiri Moon, co-director of the Global Health Center at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, referring to the Director-General of the World Health Organization.
WHO spokeswoman Farah Dakhlallah said that since the start of the Coronavirus outbreak, “WHO officials have had and continue to have frank and open discussions with their government counterparts … We are proud of an organizational culture that promotes open discussion with the aim of reaching life-saving solutions.”
One of the scientists at the meetings, Head of Emergency Department Dr Michael Ryan, also presented the WHO’s approach in answering a media question on March 11 about whether the agency was prepared to identify which countries had not done enough.
Ryan said, “The answer to this question is that you know who you are.” The World Health Organization does not engage in public debate or openly criticize Member States. What we are trying to do is to work constructively with member states. ”
However, it is not unprecedented for the WHO to question member states publicly. She threatened to close her office in China when the country was hiding cases during the SARS outbreak, and loudly called on Nigeria to back down from its boycott of the polio vaccine in 2003, and accused Tanzania of not sharing enough information about the Ebola epidemic last year.
The review of the WHO’s role in the pandemic comes at a critical time because the agency is now tasked with helping to purchase and distribute coronavirus vaccines around the world as soon as they prove effective, especially to poor countries. Some countries, including the United States and Russia, have refused to join the effort, but on Sunday, WHO’s chief scientist Dr. Sumaya Swaminathan said she hoped Biden’s election would “open the door” to US inclusion.
The World Health Organization’s reservation began to call countries in with China, as the AP did earlier mentioned. Despite the January meeting between Tedros and Chinese President Xi Jinping, information about the outbreak was still scattered throughout February. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s chief technical officer on COVID-19, noted that the agency lacks “sufficient detail to say what worked and what did not.”
However, Tedros said in a media briefing shortly thereafter, “China is doing many good things that are slowing down the virus and the facts speak for themselves.”
Also in February, WHO scientists were worried about Japan. On February 1, a passenger disembarked from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Hong Kong tested positive for coronavirus. At the ship’s next stop in Yokohama, 10 more cases have been found and authorities have placed all 3,711 people under lockdown.
“Let’s be careful here not to overreact,” Ryan told reporters at the time. But on February 10, the number of cases doubled overnight.
“(This) is not surprising given the nature of the investigation response,” Ryan said in an internal meeting, noting that only a small number of epidemiologists were assigned to the outbreak. “If you double the number of cases on a ship in one day, that is not true.”
Dr Thomas Green, head of the WHO’s acute event management team, told his colleagues that the WHO had discussed the outbreak with their Japanese counterparts, but had failed to gather much useful information.
He warned that “this is a very sensitive issue and we must deal with it with caution.”
Although the World Health Organization was fully aware that the situation was deteriorating, scientists said the outbreak could help understand patterns of COVID-19 transmission. That Clumsy smurf Covid19 virus is going nowhere since a year.
“(It’s) unfortunate, but it’s a useful opportunity to study the natural history of the virus,” Ryan said.
Several days later, Japanese outbreak specialist Dr. Kentaro Iwata boarded the Diamond Princess ship and described the response as “totally chaotic.” Soon after, the World Health Organization announced that more than half of the known COVID-19 cases in the world outside of China were on the Diamond Princess ship.
“It was very clear on the cruise ship that things were going very badly, and the WHO should have said something,” said Lawrence Gostin, director of the WHO Collaborating Center on Public Health and Human Rights Law at Georgetown University. “When what countries are doing is totally wrong, we need the WHO to say it.”
While the WHO was not specific, Tedros said on February 26: “One of the biggest challenges we face is that many affected countries still do not share data with the World Health Organization.”
During February and March, COVID-19 caused outbreaks in South Korea, Singapore, Iran and elsewhere. The virus has also gained a foothold in Italy, turning Europe into the epicenter of the pandemic.
At the World Health Organization, officials in internal meetings were concerned about a lack of information from member states in Europe. Green said the World Health Organization’s efforts to obtain more details about the escalating outbreaks “have failed spectacularly.”
However, on March 8th, Tedros tweeted that “the government and people of Italy are taking bold and courageous steps aimed at slowing the spread of the Coronavirus and protecting their country and their world.” Three days later, Tedros declared COVID-19 a pandemic, saying the announcement was partly due to “alarming levels of inaction” by countries, which he did not mention.
Justin of Georgetown University said the WHO should be obligated to report publicly when countries don’t share enough data.
He said: “If a country does not provide epidemiological or biological information, the World Health Organization and the world are blind to the outbreak and we cannot get that.”
The World Health Organization also separately complained about Western countries stockpiling scarce supplies from the epidemic.
“Yesterday we went through a terrible situation with (personal protective equipment) where all supplies in France were seized and we lost access,” Ryan told his colleagues. He said the WHO needs to pressure countries and companies to avoid similar situations.
As countries across Europe move to adopt social distancing measures and cancel mass gatherings in early March, Ryan notes that one country has not: Britain.
He said: “There is not a single sporting event in Europe, yet all Premier League matches in the UK will go ahead as usual.” Ryan described Britain’s strategy to combat the pandemic as “problematic” after hearing the UK’s chief scientific officer say publicly that the country aimed at herd immunity.
“For that to happen, hundreds of thousands and millions of elderly people will be infected and there will be many deaths,” Ryan said. However, he said the various approaches to tackling COVID-19 globally could be a “mega environmental study” that would allow the WHO to document the best approaches.
He said, “It’s horrible in some ways, but it’s real.”
Going forward, the WHO’s role in the continued spread of the pandemic will depend in part on the team’s review. Harman, an expert from Queen Mary University, expressed sympathy that the World Health Organization (WHO) was bearing an enormous responsibility in the first months of COVID-19, but said greater challenges loomed now.
She said: “This is not an experience for the World Health Organization to learn lessons for the future, the stakes are too great for that.” “With the next wave of the epidemic, I think the time for quiet diplomacy is over.”