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WHA75: Don’t use health issues to settle political scores, WHO warns world leaders

WHA75: Don’t use health issues to settle political scores, WHO warns world leaders

The director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Ghebreyesus, has cautioned world leaders against using disease outbreaks or epidemics as an opportunity to get back at each other.

Mr Ghebreyesus said the world should rather use such outbreaks as weapons of unity.

The director general said this at the ongoing World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, during a lecture titled; “Towards a New Architecture for Health Emergency Preparedness, Response and Resilience.”

He said; “We shouldn’t use outbreaks of pandemics for political gains. We have seen incumbents or opposition using the pandemic to punch their opponents.”

While the director-general didn’t mention names, he cited Finland as a country that uses pandemics as an opportunity to work together.

He said: “Some countries have shown us that no need to use the pandemics as an opportunity to punch each other but to unite, to have even a joint task force and work together.

“The first example I remember was Finland, the incumbent and the opposition had a task force to work on the pandemics together. I think that’s what countries should do in this pandemic, and in the next or you know, something that can come in the future.”

Speaking further on the impacts of political interference on emergency preparedness and response, the director-general expressed his displeasure over how some politicians do not respect the decisions of health experts.

He said: “Political interference in technical or scientific issues has really cost us a lot during this pandemic. When experts propose this way, politics goes the other way, for political reasons, which is dangerous.

“About decision making, and so on, I think politics should respect expertise. Like you can’t fly an aeroplane without pilots. You can’t also prepare and respond to pandemics without the experts.”

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Proposal for emergency response

Giving his general remarks on the topic, Mr Ghebreyesus spoke about a report outlining a proposal designed to address the disparities in global health emergencies and the possible solutions.

He said: “Yesterday, member states noted the secretariat’s report outlining a proposal for a more equitable, inclusive and coherent global architecture for health emergency preparedness and response.

“We prepared this proposal in response to a request at the executive board and in consultation with member-states synthesising more than 300 recommendations from the various reviews of the response to the pandemic.

“It makes recommendations for enhanced governance that’s coherent, inclusive and accountable. The stronger systems and tools to prevent, detect, and respond rapidly to health emergencies and adequate and efficient financing domestically and internationally.”

Speaking on the solutions, he noted that the WHO is working jointly with the World Bank on the design of a financial intermediary fund, “with financial…

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