Coronavirus brought “WHO’’ and “CHINA’’ into a global highlight. The WHO is also facing accusations of casual handling of the pandemic and helping China, the origin of Covid-19, with an escape. Even with vaccines coming up, we all agree that this pandemic has led to the shrinkage of the world economy, loss of jobs & lives. This blog is about The World Health Organization And Why It Needs Reforms?
Before diving into our topic The World Health Organization And Why It Needs Reforms, let’s have a basic idea about WHO, first. Protection of human life was the basic reason behind the formation of WHO on 7th April 1948. Its headquarter is in Geneva and has 156 other offices around the world. The main objective of WHO is “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health”. However, due to the alleged gross negligence of WHO in the pandemic, about 68.2 millions healthy lives got affected and 1.56 million people have lost their lives. In fact, it is not the first time when the WHO has been alleged of negligence.
The World Health Organization and Its Controversies
Here are a few of the controversies which have put a strain on the future of the organization. This is also why I insist upon the reforms in order to continue WHO’s well-envisioned journey.
2009 Swine Flu Pandemic –
In April 2009, Margaret Chan, the then Director-General of the WHO, declared Swine Flu as a pandemic. Swine Flu had H1N1 influenza virus which could lead to respiratory ailment and was contagious. The world economy drastically shrunk, many lost their lives and livelihood. By 2010, Margaret Chan declared that the world had overcome the pandemic time and was now good to go freely. However, the WHO was accused of exaggerating the danger and spreading “fear and confusion” rather than “immediate information”.
International Agency for Research on Cancer –
A sub-department of the WHO dealing with research in cancer and other analysis. This wing has been criticised for being politically motivated while choosing subjects for their cancer-causing analysis.
For Example – The Red meat business would be worth around $668 billion by 2023 and will keep booming. As per IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer), red meat is likely to cause cancer but they do not mention ‘at what quantity does it become dangerous’. As per their research, working as a barber, drinking hot beverages and cell phone signals are all agents of cancer. However, they do not mention what approximate quantity of consumption/exposure become cancerous.
Chinese pressure and Taiwan –
It seems quite evident that WHO is a follower of China. But, before this fact was known, WHO had barred Taiwan to attend WHO meetings and events from 2009 to 2016. All this was due to Chinese control over an independent body. Then from 2017 to 2020, the WHO refused to allow Taiwanese delegates to attend the WHO annual assembly. In 2018, the USA, Japan, Australia, Germany came in support of Taiwan’s inclusion in the meetings and events of WHO. Despite the request, WHO favoured the Chinese side.
Extravagant in Travel Expenses –
As per “The Associated Press’’, the WHO spends about $200 million annually on travel expenses, more than it spends to tackle mental health problems, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria ‘combined’. Moreover, the Director-General of WHO, Margaret Chan (2007-2017), stayed in a $1000-per-night hotel room during her official visit to West Africa.
COVID-19 Pandemic –
The disease is said to have started in November 2019. Since then, Corona-afflicted patients are multiplying in hospitals. It is contagious and is spreading at a quick rate. Despite knowing the contagiousness of this virus, the WHO downplayed the crises for 1 month till China took control and locked the country. On 1st January WHO framed a committee and on January 5th it notified the other member states of the outbreak. The WHO, despite knowing the facts and hiding them, praised China for its response to the crisis.
In the times when humanity needed WHO, it has always downplayed and absconded from its responsibility.
In 2015 when WHO didn’t pay heed to the Ebola epidemic, many people lost their lives. The reason cited for this irresponsibility was corruption and lack of funding to the organization. However, the funding received by WHO amounts to $4 billion+ annually and has a travel expense of $200 million per annum.
The World Health Organization And Why It Needs Reforms?
The World Health Organization’s partiality towards a single nation led to the USA, the single largest donor, pulling out of WHO due to its failure to handle Covid-19. Besides, the ousting of Taiwan from the meeting and not following the required protocol while handling COVID-19 has eradicated the trust of many member countries. Therefore, there is a need for reforms in World Health Organizations in order to save humanity from future health problems.
In order to protect humanity from future health crises, the organisation needs to be transparent. It should be free from the clutches of politics and businesses. This is why the United Nations, Red Cross or other global organizations were formed – to serve the people.
P.S: Formulating reforms require various skills. However, criticism with the intent of growth and progress requires just the right vision.