WHO reforms

WHO reforms

News: Recently, the Prime Minister addressed the Second Global Covid Virtual Summit of the World Health Organisation (WHO), where he emphasized WHO Reforms.

What are the reforms suggested by India?
• Strengthening the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) declaration process is the need of the hour. Emphasis must be on transparency and promptness in the declaration process.
• There is a need to ensure that extra budgetary or voluntary contributions are unearmarked to ensure that the WHO has the necessary flexibility for its usage in areas where they are required the most.
• There is no collaborative mechanism wherein the actual projects and activities are decided in consultation with member states, there is no review with respect to value for money and whether projects are being done as per the member states priorities or if there are abnormal delays. Establishing strong and robust financial accountability frameworks will enable maintaining integrity in financial flows.
• There is need for member states to have a greater say in the functioning of the WHO, given that it is the states which are responsible for implementation on ground of the technical advice and recommendations coming from the WHO.
• It has been felt that the TRIPS flexibilities provided for public health, under Doha Declaration, may not be sufficient to deal with crises such as Covid-19 pandemic. It is important to ensure fair, affordable, and equitable access to all tools (therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics) for combating Covid-19 pandemic and, therefore, the need to build a framework for their allocation.
• Implementation of International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005 has highlighted critical gaps in the basic health infrastructure of member states. It is important that activities carried out by WHO, under its General Programme of Work, should focus on building and strengthening capacities in member states as required under IHR 2005, which are found lacking or deficient on the basis of the self-reporting on IHR 2005 done by the Member states.
• It is essential to create a Global framework for management of infectious diseases and pandemics. For this, there is need for enhancement of capacities of countries in preparation for and response to infectious diseases of pandemic potential, including guidance on effective public health and economic measures for health emergencies by leveraging a multidisciplinary approach which includes social science alongside health and natural sciences.

Need for WHO reforms:
• The growth and scope of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has prompted requests for increased international public health collaboration, both at the regional and global levels, especially reforming the WHO.
• WHO is not immune to global power-play. Powerful countries such as the US and China influence decision making.
• Only a quarter of its budget comes from contributions from UN member-states, and the real money to power its work is from voluntary funding by countries and organisations.
• WHO’s institutional arrangements must be able to strongly push global cooperation in public health and support developing countries in real-time.
• Neither WHO nor any multilateral organisation is involved in drugs research.

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