WHO Director-General promises review of global pandemic response
2020-05-19 from theglobeandmail.com
The leadership of the World Health Organization will face a review into its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic – though it remains unclear when an inquiry might happen, and how independent any investigation would be.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday that he would initiate a review “at the earliest appropriate moment.” But that promise – which was formalized in a resolution that conspicuously avoided naming China – looked unlikely to dull U.S. anger at the United Nations health agency.
The Trump administration said Monday that the WHO had “failed at its core mission” by not demanding more transparency from China at the beginning of the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has since killed more than 318,000 people worldwide.
Monday’s virtual meeting in Geneva of the World Health Assembly, the body that governs the WHO, capped weeks of escalating verbal attacks between the U.S. and China. Addressing the assembly by video link, President Xi Jinping said China acted with “openness and transparency and responsibility” and that it would support a WHO-led review after the pandemic is tackled.
While the U.S. was highly critical of the global health body, Beijing opened its wallet in support of it. In his address, Mr. Xi promised to contribute US$2-billion to the global fight against COVID-19.
That contribution would equal the WHO’s entire annual budget, and more than make up for the US$400-million that disappeared from the WHO’s finances when President Donald Trump announced last month that his administration would halt payments to the organization over its handling of the outbreak.
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