WHO sets up panel to evaluate its handling of the coronavirus crisis
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WHO sets up panel to evaluate its handling of the coronavirus crisis

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The World Health Organisation (WHO), which has been heavily criticised for its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, will set up an independent panel of experts to review its handling of the crisis.

On Thursday, the WHO announced that it would launch an independent panel of experts to provide “an honest assessment” of the management of the crisis and to help “prevent such tragedies in the future.”

“I am proud to announce that former Prime Minister Helen Clark (New Zealand) and former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia) have agreed to co-chair the assessment committee, which we call the independent panel for pandemic preparedness and response,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“I cannot imagine two more independent personalities to make this honest assessment, and help us understand what happened and what we should do to avoid such tragedies in the future,” he said.

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At its virtual meeting in May, the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of WHO, requested the WHO Director-General to initiate an “independent and comprehensive evaluation to review experience gained and lessons learned” from the WHO-coordinated response to COVID-19.

At a press conference on 29 June, Dr Tedros announced that the WHO has started publishing an updated and detailed timeline of WHO’s response to the pandemic on its website, “so the public can have a look at what happened in the past six months in relation to the response.”

Since the start of the health crisis at the end of 2019, the WHO has been heavily criticised in its response, in particular its delay in recommending the use of masks.

Additionally, the organisation has been accused by the United States of being extremely complacent with China, where the coronavirus emerged, and of delaying the declaration of a global health emergency.

The United States, a major contributor to WHO’s budget, officially notified the organisation on Tuesday that it was withdrawing from the organisation.

“Divisions among us give the virus the upper hand” and “we will not be able to defeat the pandemic if we are divided,” Dr Tedros said in a veiled response to the US’s decision.

“The greatest threat we face today is not the virus itself, but the lack of leadership and solidarity,” he added.

The Brussels Times