India backs resolution questioning WHO's action on COVID 19 response

ST Staff
Monday, 18 May 2020

European nations and Australia gathered support for an "impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation" of "the WHO-coordinated international health response to Covid-19" and India is one of the co-sponsors.

India is one of the co-sponsors of a draft resolution calling for an 'impartial' and 'independent' review of the actions of the World Health Organization on the COVID-19 pandemic to be tabled for adoption at the World Health Assembly.

The World Health Assembly (WHA) is an annual gathering of all 194 UN specialised health agency member states. The 73rd assembly was shortened to two days (May 18- 19) due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and will be held virtually.

The European Union and Australia are at the helm of the investigation, and this is the first time India has expressed its support for such a move. 

This came at a time when key stakeholders blamed the World Health Organization for the Covid-19 pandemic's delayed response. 

The UN body has recently been widely criticised for having been late in declaring it a global health emergency. Expert parts have also said that it took too long for WHO even to discuss the human-to-human dimension of transmission. 

A total of 62 countries sponsored the draft resolution, entitled "COVID-19 response," but does not include the United States among them. The Trump administration has criticised Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO, accusing him of being favourably disposed towards China.

The resolution states that timelines for WHO recommendations for improving global pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response capacity should be evaluated.

The draft resolution is an effort to ensure transparency and accountability for the spread of the disease, widely recognised as the worst crisis since the Second World War.

WHO's delayed response

The World Health Organization and its managing director, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, were blamed for playing alongside China until the virus reached sufficient countries and spread rapidly.

In December, when cases of mysterious viral pneumonia first appeared in Wuhan, Chinese health officials silenced whistleblowers and played down the severity of the outbreak repeatedly.

Even as late as mid-January, with the virus spreading beyond China 's borders, Chinese officials described it as "preventable and controllable" and said there was no evidence that it could be broadly transmitted among humans. On January 14, the WHO endorsed the government's claims that human-to-human transmission had not been proven.

 

The WHO declared a global health emergency on January 23, but did not declare it and waited a week for its Chinese director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to return.

By that time, COVID-19 cases grew ten times, with the virus entering 18 countries.

Following the announcement by the United States of a ban on most foreign citizens who had recently visited China, the WHO again appeared to show deference to Chinese officials, saying travel restrictions were needless. 

On February 2, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that there was no need for measures to "unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade" to try to stop the coronavirus spread that killed more than 350 people in China at that time. 

 

On March 11, WHO officially called coronavirus spread a pandemic.

 

The global health body has been criticised not only by the US for its "China-centric" response.

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