A number of mainly European countries are calling for significant strengthening of the World Health Organization, which has been pushed to the brink by COVID-19. They want to boost its independence, flexibility and funding.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the WHO “must be the heart, the compass, of our global health approach. This organisation must be robust in times of crisis, it must be flexible enough to react to emergencies.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel meanwhile noted “the priority must be to enable the world to respond to a pandemic threat as rapidly as possible,” and voiced support for the creation of a global health threats council.
Despite a palpable sense of urgency, fears abound that countries will not go far enough.
There are particular disagreements over proposals to boost the WHO’s powers, and to hand it more independence to investigate and sound the alarm about serious health threats.