“Consult us more”: Countries to WHO


Countries praise WHO efforts on addressing the pandemic, but want more consultation

A number of countries called on WHO for greater consultations on the decisions around the response to the pandemic at the Special Executive Board [EB] meeting earlier this week. From demands on consultations on the allocation framework that will determine access to COVID-19 health products, to the governance structure of the Gavi-led COVAX Facility, countries seemed to suggest that they have been left out of these consultation processes.

To be sure, in a repeat of the World Health Assembly in May 2020, countries came together to show their support for multilateralism, for the work of WHO and its dedication and commitment to fight the pandemic, but more questions were raised on governance processes, than witnessed in the recent past.

A range of countries from Austria to the UK, from Romania to Kenya asked for greater consultation and engagement.

In his response to member states’ concern, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus promised to continue with weekly meetings with member states and acknowledged the importance of closer working relations with the governing bodies of WHO.

The two-day meeting saw member states consider the interim report by the DG on the implementation of resolution WHA73.1 (2020) on the COVID-19 response and an update from the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. It also saw a technical briefing from WHO’s Emergencies program and an update from the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme. (Interim report on WHO’s response to COVID-19 January-April 2020)

Although the meeting was relatively brief given its hybrid format, it appeared that the session was significant in terms of reflecting the deep changes in the governance of global health, even as the world is very much in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a short intervention, at the end of day one, DG Tedros seemed to suggest, that it was perhaps time to formalize the structures of the ACT Accelerator for future pandemics. This was striking, given that the structures around the ACT Accelerator are effectively located outside of WHO.

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