WHO ‘Must Take Courageous Steps’ To Achieve Founding Vision Of Health Cooperation

The Lancet: WHOse health agenda? 70 years of struggle over WHO’s mandate
Anne-Emanuelle Birn, faculty member at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto

“…WHO’s promising mandate for health cooperation, forged amid a short-lived post-war optimism, mapped out a world of possibilities. Yet its realization has been limited across distinct eras by complex geopolitical, economic, and institutional pressures … WHO retains its potential as a democratic and publicly accountable organization serving collective needs equitably and sustainably, but must take courageous steps to achieve this vision. … WHO’s 70th jubilee comes at a critical juncture. Ethiopian Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general since 2017, may either intensify WHO’s corporate embrace or stand in solidarity with the people’s health. Enabling WHO to heed its constitutional mandate would require: accountable governance and democratic priority-setting by member countries, thereby resisting undue power of private actors; adequate member dues; replacement of ‘multistakeholder’ profit-oriented partnerships with public-public (intersectoral) ones; decision making and regulation predicated on social need, human rights, and sound science; and success defined in terms of health equity, not tallying disease-control activities. Here’s hoping that WHO’s coming decades bring social justice oriented health for all people” (4/7).

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