Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS)

El 11 de marzo de 2020, el director general de la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS), Tedros Adhanom, declaró pandemia la epidemia de coronavirus, plaga planetaria, problema de todos. Advirtió de que estaba haciendo sonar la alarma alta y clara, y que muchos países no estaban tomando las medidas adecuadas por un problema de recursos o capacidad o determinación, pero lo que no dijo Adhanom es que todos esos países las iban a tener que tomar con un problema adicional gordísimo pendiendo sobre sus cabezas: falta de tiempo. A él y a la OMS les había costado dios y ayuda no ya declarar pandemia a la epidemia de coronavirus, sino declararla emergencia internacional sanitaria mucho antes y mucho mejor, cuando el virus aún podía ser confinado en un país en vez de la humanidad entera, en todos los países.…  Seguir leyendo »

La question d’une convention internationale sur les pandémies a été récemment évoquée dans les pages de ce journal. Aujourd’hui, c’est l’urgence de la négociation qui est préoccupante.

En effet, par sa décision SSA2/5, datée du 1er décembre 2021, l’Assemblée mondiale de la santé (AMS) a créé un organe intergouvernemental chargé de rédiger et de négocier une convention ou un autre instrument international sur les pandémies. Non sans raison, le directeur général de l’OMS a jugé cette décision « historique », car elle offrirait « une occasion unique de renforcer l’architecture mondiale de la santé afin de protéger et de promouvoir le bien-être de tous ».…  Seguir leyendo »

Parece mentira, pero es cierto: en plena crisis de la COVID‑19, los estados miembros de la Organización Mundial de la Salud todavía se preguntan si deben aumentar, y cuánto, sus aportes financieros periódicos a la organización, cuya labor sigue salvando vidas dentro y fuera de sus fronteras.

Algunos tal vez crean que la OMS está bien financiada, pero no es así. La estructura presupuestaria actual de la OMS le dificulta cumplir la función de ser el principal organismo de salud pública internacional, ya que menos del 20% de su presupuesto procede de los aportes periódicos de los estados miembros («contribuciones señaladas»).…  Seguir leyendo »

On Friday, the Norwegian Nobel Committee will announce the 2020 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. This year, the Nobel Committee has the opportunity to bolster international efforts to combat the covid-19 pandemic by conferring the honor on the World Health Organization — and in so doing, push back against the Trump administration’s dangerous moves to undermine a vital multilateral agency.

In recent years, arguments in support of multilateralism have resonated with the committee. Over 20 percent of the Nobel Peace Prizes awarded in the 21st century have gone to the United Nations and its entities. This includes the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in 2013; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007; the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2005, and, in the weeks after the 9/11 attacks, to the United Nations itself “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world”.…  Seguir leyendo »

In 2003, an outbreak of a previously unknown infection, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), created great fear and uncertainty across the globe. One concern was that the Chinese government was concealing the actual number of SARS cases in Shanghai.

Since Shanghai was the country's economic center, the stakes for China -- and the world -- were high. The Chinese government asked the World Health Organization (WHO) to conduct an independent assessment of the situation, and I joined colleagues from Germany, the US and the WHO Office in Beijing to form the WHO team that went to Shanghai.

In confidence, we spoke with international diplomats in Shanghai, made unannounced visits to health care facilities so we could directly examine medical records and speak with staff, and met with city officials.…  Seguir leyendo »

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 »

Xi Jinping, left; Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization; and Donald Trump. Credit Illustration by The New York Times; photographs by Doug Mills/The New York Times, Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press, Pool photo by Fabrice Coffrini

On Tuesday, President Trump formally began the process of pulling the United States out of the World Health Organization, having accused the organization of not holding the Chinese government to account for its handling of the coronavirus.

The withdrawal would not go into effect until next July. But the prospect of losing the United States as a member, far and away the W.H.O.’s largest donor, is a big blow to the organization, and comes just a day after 239 scientists in 39 countries wrote an open letter claiming its guidance on airborne transmission was outdated.

Mr. Trump’s criticisms of the W.H.O.…  Seguir leyendo »

The World Health Assembly (WHA) -- the biggest event on the global health agenda -- held on Monday and Tuesday this week, can be easily summed up: The Trump administration threatened to take the UN agency off life support as it fights a global pandemic -- and Chinese President Xi Jinping threw it a new life line.

Xi -- widely criticized for his government's failure to sound the alarm over the situation in Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus outbreak began -- was able to manipulate the 73rd WHA into a much-needed PR makeover for China. Meanwhile, the United States walked away, threatening to pull funding and membership from the World Health Organization (WHO) -- potentially hobbling its ability to deliver a robust response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bandera de la OMS en su sede en Ginebra (Suiza). Foto: Eric Bridiers/United States Mission Geneva (CC BY-ND 2.0)


La OMS está recibiendo muchas críticas por su gestión del COVID-19. Aquí se señalan algunos de los desafíos que afectan a la organización.


La OMS es, por su naturaleza, esencial. Si no existiera habría que crearla. El caso del COVID-19 corrobora que, aunque la salud no lo es todo, sin salud todo lo demás puede llegar a ser nada. Y la OMS tiene un papel fundamental en la prevención y control de los problemas de salud que afectan a todo el mundo. Pero… ¿es ésta la OMS que se necesita o hay que reinventarla? Aquí se revisa el papel que desempeña la OMS en los países en desarrollo y en los desarrollados, su estructura, cómo se financia y de qué forma ese mecanismo de financiación afecta a su independencia.…  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 »

A member of a nongovernmental aid organization measures residents’ temperatures as a preventive measure against covid-19 in Kafr Takharim, Syria, on Tuesday. (Ghaith Alsayed/AP)

This week, President Trump announced that he is suspending U.S. funding for the World Health Organization. He accused the organization of taking “China’s assurances at face value” and pushing “China’s misinformation” about the coronavirus outbreak there.

He’s not wrong. On that count, the WHO is guilty as charged. But the WHO’s penchant for cozying up to dictatorships at the expense of public health is not limited to China. Just look at its shameful track record in Syria.

The WHO has done the same things and worse when it comes to the regime led by Bashar al-Assad. Its behavior is emblematic of a greater problem in United Nations organizations that argue that their need to work with terrible governments justifies actions to further those regimes’ agendas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Standing in the Rose Garden on Tuesday afternoon, President Trump announced that the United States would freeze its contributions to the World Health Organization “while a review is conducted” into how the organization has responded to covid-19 and whether China has too much influence within WHO.

The move prompted widespread condemnation from the WHO itself, as well as from health experts and global leaders. So what is the WHO and what is its role? Here’s what you need to know about the politics of global health.

What is the World Health Organization?

Founded in 1948, the World Health Organization is a specialized U.N.…  Seguir leyendo »

La crise du coronavirus appelle à une OMS plus puissante

Les commentaires à l’égard de la gestion de la crise par l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) étaient jusqu’alors globalement positifs, en comparaison avec la gestion de la crise Ebola en 2014 : réaction rapide, transparence et diffusion des données épidémiologiques dès leur réception, clarté des messages sur la gravité de l’épidémie. Pourtant, depuis quelques jours, une petite musique se fait entendre remettant en question l’efficacité de l’organisation onusienne face à la crise et l’accusant d’être à la solde de la Chine. Ces attaques sont menées d’abord par l’administration américaine, Donald Trump accusant l’OMS de s’être «trompée sur beaucoup de choses», d’avoir critiqué sa réponse à la pandémie, et d’être «très centrée sur la Chine», allant jusqu’à menacer de diminuer les financements américains à l’OMS (qui représentent le quart de son budget global).…  Seguir leyendo »

If there is going to be a silver lining to the covid-19 crisis, it should involve the plucky democracy of Taiwan getting the international support it deserves. The country of 23 million people has dealt with the pandemic as well as any. As of Tuesday, Taiwan had 393 confirmed cases and six deaths, extremely low numbers for a nation on China’s doorstep. Taiwan is now even helping the rest of the world as well by churning out millions of face masks and sending them all over the globe.

Like other countries that responded effectively, Taiwan had a bad experience with SARS in 2003, so it was better prepared for an epidemic.…  Seguir leyendo »

Over the past week President Trump has repeatedly rebuked the World Health Organization, arguing that “they missed the call” on the novel coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, Trump announced the U.S. would halt funding for the global health organization, pending a review of WHO’s pandemic response. This follows a report in Monday’s Washington Post that U.S. officials are “expected to recommend … how to dock or condition payments to the agency as Republicans in Congress seek documentation of WHO dealings with China”. Various points of contention include the relative size of U.S. contributions to the organization and an alleged pro-China bias.

International organizations like the WHO are not a sideshow to power politics — they are a crucial arena of struggle.…  Seguir leyendo »

La globalidad de la pandemia del coronavirus ha cogido a la comunidad internacional con el pie cambiado, en el peor momento de la cooperación internacional —multilateralidad es el término técnico— de los últimos años, con un grupo de países intentando a toda costa dinamitar el esfuerzo colectivo ante los grandes retos, empezando por el cambio climático y la ambiciosa Agenda 2030 de desarrollo sostenible. En ello estábamos cuando aparece esta amenaza mundial en forma de virus que destapa todas nuestras carencias globales.

Para empezar, nadie está realmente coordinando a nivel mundial los esfuerzos que cada país está improvisando por su cuenta y riesgo.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Chinese government has effectively “intimidated” the World Health Organization, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) claimed this week. As a brand-new infectious disease rapidly spread across the globe, Rubio argued, China didn’t share information, best practices and data on infections among health-care workers.

However, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised China’s early efforts to combat the disease. But the result, Rubio points out, is that the United States — and every other country — is effectively on its own as the world tries to deal with this new coronavirus.

This isn’t the first time critics have accused China of covering up or downplaying the severity of an infectious disease outbreak.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Thursday, after delaying for an extra day of deliberation, the World Health Organization decided not to declare the outbreak of pneumonia caused by a new coronavirus to be a PHEIC — a public health emergency of international concern.

The WHO’s decision has surprised many global health experts, particularly after the urgency and severity of China’s internal response. A lockdown of the city of Wuhan has become an unprecedented quarantine of 48 million people in central China. The WHO announcement raises critical questions about how the organization makes its decisions — and, in particular, the role of politics in that process.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Liberian man walks past an Ebola awareness painting on a wall in downtown Monrovia, Liberia, in 2015. (Ahmed Jallanzo/European Pressphoto Agency)

A recent AP article (carried by The Washington Post) grabbed widespread attention with the charge that the “World Health Organization [WHO] routinely spends about $200 million a year on travel — far more than what it doles out to fight … AIDS, tuberculosis [TB] or malaria.” At face value, this is an alarming statistic. As the AP points out, the United Nations health agency is perpetually “cash-strapped” and “pleads for more money.” And it feeds into more general condemnation of international bureaucratic practices — President Trump, for example, calls the United Nations “a waste of time and money”.

Criticisms such as this are facile.…  Seguir leyendo »