By Kate Kelland and Josephine Mason
LONDON, Jan 13 (Reuters) – The function and remit of the World Well being Group (WHO) ought to be examined within the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and reforms will seemingly be wanted to free it from politics and provides it extra independence, public well being specialists stated on Wednesday.
Talking on the Reuters Subsequent convention, British epidemiologist Neil Ferguson, Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell and Chikwe Ihekweazu, the pinnacle of Nigeria’s Centre for Illness Management, stated the United Nations well being company had confronted difficulties in main a world response to the pandemic.
“We have to mirror on how the worldwide structure could be improved,” Ferguson stated, together with a must rethink “the governance of organisations such because the WHO”.
“One of many challenges it faces is being actually unbiased,” he stated. “Sometimes, it’s influenced by huge states. Traditionally that has been western nations like the US, and now it is very a lot China as effectively – and that may generally show difficult in conditions just like the final 12 months.”
Many governments all over the world, together with in the US, Australia and the European Union, have referred to as for the WHO to be reformed or restructured amid criticism of its response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The WHO has been rocked by a choice final 12 months by the US to halt its funding and has been accused of being too near China within the first section of the pandemic, when critics say Beijing was sluggish in sharing essential info on the brand new coronavirus which first appeared within the metropolis of Wuhan.
The WHO has repeatedly dismissed such accusations, and China insists it has been open and clear.
Talking on the identical Reuters Subsequent convention panel, Sweden’s Tegnell stated that in his view, “this disaster in comparison with most of the crises within the final decade has turn out to be much more politicised”.
“That has made the WHO’s function much more troublesome,” he stated.
Nigeria’s Ihekweazu stated he hoped the 12 months forward would see the world work collectively extra intently to deal with the pandemic, notably in enhancing equitable entry to vaccines designed to stop the illness.
‘YEAR OF VACCINES’
Whereas vaccines towards COVID-19 are beginning to be rolled out in some wealthier nations in Europe and the Americas, poorer nations could have to attend some months earlier than they’ve entry to provides.
“There is not any doubt this 12 months would be the 12 months of vaccines,” Ihekweazu stated, including that he had simply seen an up to date map of nations the place vaccines have been given already.
“Taking a look at it from a world perspective, it’s heartbreaking,” he stated. “But it surely’s early days, it’s January, so we’ll need to see how the 12 months pans out.”
All three specialists stated they anticipated populations of their nations and others to face restrictions designed to sluggish the unfold of the pandemic for a minimum of the primary half of 2021, and possibly longer if the rollout of vaccines takes extra time.
However they stated they hoped that by the top of the 12 months, life may begin to look somewhat extra like a pre-pandemic regular.
“We have now to do not forget that on this planet round us, most certainly, this virus will carry on transmitting,” stated Tegnell. “So we have to maintain a excessive degree of preparedness in place. It isn’t going to be a straightforward life.”
For extra protection from the Reuters Subsequent convention please click on right here or www.reuters.com/enterprise/reuters-next To look at Reuters Subsequent stay, go to https://www.reutersevents.com/occasions/subsequent/register.php (Reporting by Kate Kelland and Josephine Mason; Enhancing by Alex Richardson)