Context: The U.S president has accused both China and WHO (World Health Organisation) for spreading COVID 19 and turning it into a pandemic.
More on News:
- China: The nation was accused of operating in secrecy, opaqueness and not sharing timely data which could have prevented the pandemic.
- WHO: The body was accused for not keeping a cautious watch on China and even for praising China in the initial phase of pandemic for its proactive role in sharing timely information.
- The independent investigation by some experts revealed that all data which was shared by China was distorted and put in public domain with a time lag.
- The world knew of human-to-human transmission in China only on January 20, and the global body was often kept in the dark.
- The current pandemic continues to infect millions, killing more than 5,30,000, and destroying livelihoods and the world economy.
WHO seems to be at the mercy of powerful nations while obtaining relevant information but they can’t be allowed to endanger lives around the world by shirking responsibility. It's surprising to see China learning no lesson from the 2002 SARS outbreak as if the nation would have shared information proactively, then certainly the degree of adversity could have been minimised.
- WHO was set up on April 7, 1948 after its constitution was signed by 61 countries on July 22, 1946 at the first meeting of the World Health Assembly.
- The Geneva-headquartered organization has six regional offices and 194 members currently.
- Its primary role is to direct and coordinate international health within the United Nations system.
Its main areas of work are health systems; health through the life-course; non communicable and communicable diseases; preparedness, surveillance and response; and corporate services.
WHO’s functions are
- To act as the directing and coordinating authority on international health work;
- To establish and maintain effective collaboration with the United Nations, specialized agencies, governmental health administrations, professional groups and such other organizations as may be deemed appropriate;
- To assist Governments, upon request, in strengthening health services;
- To furnish appropriate technical assistance and, in emergencies, necessary aid upon the request or acceptance of Governments;
- Members of the United Nations may become Members of the Organization by signing or otherwise accepting WHO’s Constitution in accordance with the provisions of Chapter XIX and in accordance with their constitutional processes.
- Territories or groups of territories which are not responsible for the conduct of their international relations may be admitted as Associate Members by the Health Assembly.
The World Health Organization is governed by two decision-making bodies: the World Health Assembly and the Executive Board. Details of both have been provided below:
The WHO Executive Board
The Executive Board is composed of 34 members technically qualified in the field of health.
The members are being elected for three-year terms.
The Executive Board chairman’s post is held by rotation for one year by each of the WHO’s six regional groups:
- These regional groups are African Region, Region of the Americas, South-East Asia Region, European Region, Eastern Mediterranean Region, and the Western Pacific Region.
- To give effect to the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly, to advise it and generally to facilitate its work.
- The Executive Board and the Health Assembly create a forum for debate on health issues and for addressing concerns raised by Member States.
Both the Executive Board and the Health Assembly produce three kinds of documents
- Resolutions and Decisions passed by the two bodies,
- Official Records as published in WHO Official publications
- Documents that are presented “in session” of the two bodies.
The WHO Health Assembly
It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board.
The main functions of the World Health Assembly are to
- determine the policies of the Organization,
- appoint the Director-General,
- supervise financial policies, and review
- approve the proposed program budget.
- The Health Assembly is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland.
- WHO is headed by the Director-General, who is appointed by the Health Assembly on the nomination of the Executive Board.