New WHO Director General Faces Several Challenges

Washington Post: The World Health Organization just picked a new leader. These are the challenges he faces.
Joshua Busby, associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin; Karen Grépin, associate professor in the Department of Health Sciences at Wilfrid Laurier University; Jeremy Youde, fellow and senior lecturer in the Department of International Relations in the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at Australian National University

“…This is a fraught moment in WHO’s history, given the organization’s budget crisis — and criticism during the 2014 Ebola crisis. Can [new WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus] succeed? … The delayed WHO response to the Ebola crisis severely damaged its standing and exposed some long-standing flaws in funding sources and structure. … Tom Frieden, former head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, laid out the challenge starkly: ‘It’s never a great thing to walk into an organization that’s broke. So that’s a problem.’ … WHO faces a related challenge over how to define its core mission. … In the wake of the Ebola crisis and emerging disease threats such as Zika, rich donor countries want the organization to focus on global health security and pandemic preparedness. During its 70-year history, WHO has performed core functions like coordination and information sharing to address infectious diseases. These roles remain as relevant as ever. Meanwhile, Tedros has suggested that his focus is health systems strengthening and universal health coverage (UHC) … Tedros may be in the impossible position of trying to satisfy too many demands with not nearly enough money. He and WHO will once again be tested…” (6/15).

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