WHO needs more powers, information from members on pandemics, say EU officials

General view during a press conference of the WHO organized by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva Switzerland July 3, 2020. (Reuters)

The World Health Organization (WHO) should be given more powers to handle pandemics and its member states should share more information with the agency during health emergencies, European Union officials said on Friday.

For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page.

The appeals are in line with a draft EU document on reform of the WHO, as Reuters reported last week citing a document drawn up by the German government after discussions with other member states.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app

The WHO should be faster in its reaction to health crises, Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn said before a video conference on Friday of EU health ministers, adding that its member states should share more information and give it more resources and powers.



WHO officials did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

The EU remarks come after criticisms that China and other countries did not share information on the COVID-19 pandemic in a timely fashion at its onset.

Read more:

Coronavirus: Europe’s surge in COVID-19 cases of ‘great concern,’ says WHO

Letting coronavirus ‘run free’ with eye to herd immunity ‘unethical’: WHO

Coronavirus: WHO chief says ‘there is hope’ to have a vaccine by year-end


The EU draft document, which ministers are expected to endorse on Friday before its formal adoption ahead of a WHO assembly in mid-November, urges the UN agency to make public more quickly how and whether its member states respect their obligations on sharing information on health crises.

The United States has accused the WHO of being too close to China in the first phase of the pandemic, when critics say Beijing was slow in sharing crucial information on the new coronavirus which first appeared in the city of Wuhan.

"Transparency on who complies with the rules is fundamental," the EU Health Commissioner told ministers at the video conference, according to her speaking notes.

The draft document also says WHO countries should allow independent epidemiological assessments on-site in high risk zones during health crises.

The paper is the latest to outline the EU’s months-long plans to address the WHO’s shortcomings on funding, governance and legal powers.

Some EU states have raised concerns on the document, which is subject to changes.

SHOW MORE
Last Update: Friday, 30 October 2020 KSA 16:55 - GMT 13:55
Top