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The Controversy over the action of the World Health Organization

© Yann Forget / Wikimedia Commons

The WHO describes its mission as the global guardian of health. The Organization is currently facing a serious health threat. The WHO -194 States- is a special agency of the UN which was founded in 1948 for " the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health". The three top contributors to the Organization are the US, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK. The WHO is headquartered in Geneva. Its primary role is to provide countries with recommendations for health policy. But the main difficulty lies in the fact that WHO is governed by its Member States and this means that the concerned governments are not under any obligation to follow the Organizations' guidelines. However, and according to a global legal agreement signed by all members, States are required to report to the Organization any disease outbreak that is unexpected or of unknown cause. WHO declared the Coronavirus and the emergency situation which resulted from it on January 30 of this year. Those who have criticized the action of the WHO argued that this pandemic should have been reported earlier. But it must also be stressed that the international community considered that the WHO's handling of the SARS in 2003 had been a success. In contrast, the Organization's response to the Ebola outbreak in West-Africa in 2014 was criticized for having been to slow in declaring a pubic health emergency (Re.Harvard ILJ). It cannot be disputed that the WHO works under political pressure from the great world powers including China and the USA. However, the WHO remains undoubtedly a very useful Organization to monitor health issues throughout the world.

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