Is WHO relevant?

Who is World Health Organisation?

As part of the member state’s duty to fund it and to provide the overarching recommendations, it seems to have failed poorly. We are dealing with a defanged contraption of the 90s with little impact to show on the ground. Unless you are calling, it’s saviour role in a remote village of Afrtica.

The problem is that public health isn’t a priority for any state. It has assumed importance in the developed countries because of capitalism, gone wrong with the excessive bureaucratic processes designed to ensure that the decision-making process becomes even more complex. Britain is fascinated by its NHS and probably has the only crown jewel left (unless you include its own problems of how Brexit is failing for the yays, too). European healthcare funded by high taxes is failing to show much progress on the ground and there have been no ground-breaking innovations.

While this represents a pessimistic view, the relevance of WHO remains to be discussed and debated. As usual,. it is not the quantum of funding that’s important, but how sustainable the funding is going to be. If a vast majority of healthcare systems are being bankrolled by WHO with endemic corruption, especially in the dictatorial countries, there is a problem because that’s not the mandate of WHO. Besides, I am not aware if the WHO mandate is bound on its signatories.

Therefore, not only WHO delayed the declaration of coronavirus as a pandemic in time, they failed to call it as biowarfare. If you include The Economist’s perspective and it’s usual bashing of “Trumpism”, be prepared for an awful read!

The who’s emergency work is governed by a legal framework known as the International Health Regulations, the current version of which has been in force since 2005. They spell out how public-health emergencies should be handled. They set the rules for how nations should behave. And they constrain the who. Member-states are bound to report outbreaks of diseases as soon as they can, but if they fail to do so, or delay as China did with covid-19, the organisation has no way of compelling them.

WHO had notable progress for small pox but only because it could be eradicated by vaccine. The same can’t be said about Polio and notably countries like Pakistan routinely failing on their fundamental duties.

he who was central in the eradication of smallpox, a disease that killed almost 300m people in the 20th century. It has helped almost wipe out polio, which in the 1980s paralysed 350,000 people in 125 countries each year. The disease is now found in only three countries. The who receives information from countries on outbreaks, organises vaccination programmes and often acts as a kind of vaccine-approval agency.

The sad fact- its rules cannot be enforced, really. Therefore, the countries cock a snook at the processes. There have been no provisions to “fine” a country for its transgressions and hence it remains a mute spectator to the public health emergencies- including unleashing of the biowarfare by its corrupt member states.

I am not sure if the Economist is willing to cheer for the organisation:

But overall the organisation has responded to covid-19 swiftly. At the start of the outbreak officials worked with technology and social-media companies to encourage them to promote accurate information. It coined the phrase “infodemic” to describe the rapid spread of misinformation about the new virus.

We saw the pandemic unravel in front of our eyes, and the Nordic countries that bucked the trend on the guidelines for the lockdowns have done evidently better than the world average with a lesser impact on their economies. Why weren’t their experiences included in the recommendations and the guidelines susbequently?

The world is reeling because of the political infighting and the hoard to control the purse strings. I don’t have any ideas to replace it with a better organisation, but we have failed.