The importance of WHO

Week of 20th April 2020

There has been a lot of praise for the WHO, the only global coordinator of health crisis in the world.  Funded by countries to help identify and discover new diseases, as well as coordinate global response, the WHO spends a lot of effort in developing countries where basic health care needs are lacking.  But during the COVID-19 pandemic, the US has been highly critical of WHO. Despite US' claims that WHO has been influenced by China in the current COVID-19 pandemic, US, being the largest contributor, actually has the most influence on WHO. 

 

It is important, however, to note that US has politicized the role of WHO by bringing up Taiwan’s lack of participation in the organization.  Marco Rubio, a senator in the US who has been hostile towards China, quoted the FT that WHO did not listen to Taiwan’s warning on human-to-human transmission of COVID-19.  However, his claim contradicts The Guardian’s, who received the text of the Taiwanese’s email, that there was no mention of human-to-human transmission of the disease.

 

Opinions that see value in WHO:

 

Opinions that are more critical of WHO:

From the web:

Nature

by Editorial

Withholding funding from the World Health Organization is wrong and dangerous, and must be reversed

From our Chief Opinionator:

The founder of Insightful Opinions, Chief Opinionator is an individual who wishes to learn from others.  She scours the internet for diversified viewpoints and wishes to benefit readers.

WHO isn't perfect but...

 

Trump wants to suspend funding to WHO and the Republicans has urged Trump on to threaten that funding will not resume until WHO’s Chief resign.

Is the WHO perfect?  No, of course not.  I had doubts about some of WHO’s warning, such as early advice against usage of masks by non-medical staff unless one is displaying symptoms of sickness.  Despite my doubt, I do believe that we need to recognize WHO’s role in global health crisis beyond the current pandemic.  It is the only globally funded health organization that deals with global responses in an outbreak of a newly discovered disease.  Yes, newly discovered disease such as COVID-19.  Yes it means WHO was learning about how to respond as data came in and decisions need to be made within days and sometimes hours of getting new information, meanwhile with every country scrutinizing every decision that is made.  If they made a botched advise, they didn’t do it on purpose, and I highly doubt they were influenced by China.  For example, China was enforcing face mask wearing even when WHO advised against it.   

The highly critical countries have been mostly US and in the above quoted article, a Canadian reporter from a well respected Canadian news outlet.  But what not mentioned in their views is the great work that WHO is doing in developing countries.  Countries that are battling diseases that are almost obsolete in the US and Canada, like polio.  There is absolutely no laws that say countries can not do more than what the WHO is recommending so putting politics aside, a government’s incompetent response to COVID-19 should not be blamed on WHO’s advise.  Governments aren’t children.  Each developed government is equipped to make their own decision especially in today’s ease of data sharing.  While yes, the WHO’s response to COVID-19 will need to be reviewed in order to ensure there is constant improvement for inevitable future outbreaks, it is a bit laughable for the US to claim they “lead the world in exploring an alternative multilateral arrangement for global pandemic warning” when they have botched their response to COVID-19 to the point that state governors are openly critical of the Trump administration.  Can we really trust a country to lead in pandemic warning when they steal PPEs from other countries, and dismiss a navy captain for raising coronavirus concerns?

So, let’s respect what WHO is doing, and let’s see how the next pandemic can be handled better by WHO, but let’s not politicize their role.