WHO Must Undergo Structural Reforms To More Effectively Respond To Global Emergencies

JAMA: Critical Choices for the WHO After the Ebola Epidemic
Lawrence O. Gostin, professor at Georgetown University, director of the O’Neill Institute for National & Global Health Law, and director of the WHO Collaborating Center on Public Health Law & Human Rights

“…When the 68th World Health Assembly convened on May 18, 2015, the WHO was experiencing a crisis of confidence. The assembly took three key steps to address the organization’s global health security capacities: it combined the secretariat’s outbreak and emergency response programs, developed a new global health emergency workforce, and created a $100 million emergency contingency fund. What the assembly did not do was address the deep structural problems that have plagued the WHO, undermining its effectiveness. … None of five proposals for structural reform of the WHO that I suggested in a previous JAMA Forum were on the assembly agenda in a meaningful form. … The WHO is too important to be sidelined or weakened further, but the organization’s ability to provide meaningful leadership is not assured. To be sure, the WHO has improved its ability to put out fires in the form of rapidly emerging infectious diseases. Although there is a better fire brigade, the assembly has yet to take action to prevent fires from erupting with increasing frequency in every region of the globe” (7/14).