Charles Clift

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Examining the global response of indivudual countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) to coronavirus. Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

When the resolution was passed by World Health Organization (WHO) member states at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May requesting an evaluation ‘at the earliest appropriate moment’ of lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19, it was generally thought the appropriate moment would be when the pandemic was on the wane.

Yet the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response has actually been established at a time when - as noted by WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in his announcement of the panel - the pandemic is still accelerating.

In most of the world the virus is not under control, and cases have actually doubled in the last six weeks.…  Seguir leyendo »

The CALM (coordination and logistic management) team at LAX place sign instructions for airport safety. Photo by Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images.

The great majority of countries have imposed partial or total travel bans on incoming non-residents since COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) on January 30.

Yet at the time of declaring the emergency WHO said there was ‘no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade’.

On January 31, President Donald Trump announced a ban on people entering the United States from China. By the end of March about 150 countries had implemented travel restrictions.

Why does WHO offer such guidance?

WHO’s guidance on travel and trade derives from the International Health Regulations (IHR), agreed by WHO member states in 2005.…  Seguir leyendo »

WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the COVID-19 press briefing on March 11, 2020, the day the coronavirus outbreak was classed as a pandemic. Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spread of COVID-19 to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on January 30 this year and then characterized it as a pandemic on March 11.

Declaring a PHEIC is the highest level of alert that WHO is obliged to declare, and is meant to send a powerful signal to countries of the need for urgent action to combat the spread of the disease, mobilize resources to help low- and middle-income countries in this effort and fund research and development on needed treatments, vaccines and diagnostics. It also obligates countries to share information with WHO.…  Seguir leyendo »

Checking boxes of personal protective equipment (PPE) at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo by SAMUEL HABTAB/AFP via Getty Images.

Donald Trump is impulsive. His sudden decision to stop funding the World Health Organization (WHO) just days after calling it 'very China-centric” and 'wrong about a lot of things' is the latest example. And this in the midst of the worst pandemic since Spanish flu in 1918 and a looming economic crisis compared by some to the 1930s.

But the decision is not really just about what WHO might or might not have done wrong. It is more about the ongoing geopolitical wrangle between the US and China, and about diverting attention from US failings in its own response to coronavirus in the run-up to the US presidential election.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kings College Hospital in London. Photo: Getty Images.

The leaked record of the five meetings of the UK–US Trade & Investment Working Group held in 2017–18 has led to a controversy in the UK election campaign around the claim that ‘the NHS is up for sale’.

But a careful reading of the leaked documents reveals how remarkably little concerns the NHS – in five meetings over 16 months, the NHS is mentioned just four times. The patent regime and how it affects medicines is discussed in more depth but largely in terms of the participants trying to understand each other’s systems and perspectives. For the most part, the discussions were overwhelmingly about everything else a trade deal would cover other than healthcare – matters such as subsidies, rules of origin and customs facilitation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Until now the World Health Organization’s (WHO) member states elected a new director-general entirely in secret. In the last contested election in 2006, the names of the candidates were publicly announced but the shortlisting by the WHO’s 34-member executive board, and its nomination for the next director-general, were held in private. The board’s single nomination was then endorsed by the World Health Assembly (WHA), consisting of representatives of all the WHO’s 194 member states.

This time the procedure has been substantially revised, based on the deliberations of a member state working group established in 2011. There is a new code of conduct for the election process emphasising greater transparency, including, for instance, member states ‘considering’ disclosing contributions to their candidate’s election campaign.…  Seguir leyendo »