WHO’s Planned Reforms Could Address Organization’s Shortcomings If Successful

World Politics Review: Do Proposed Reforms of the World Health Organization Go Far Enough?
Jeremy Youde, associate professor in the Department of International Relations at the Australian National University

“…Earlier this month, [WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus] unveiled reforms that … are aimed at achieving the WHO’s so-called ‘triple billion’ targets … The actual details of how and when most of these changes will go into effect have yet to be announced, but these reforms have the potential to address a number of the WHO’s shortcomings … First, by building teams that incorporate staffers at all different levels and encouraging movement among previously siloed offices, WHO staff could become more attuned to local issues. … Second, these reforms could increase the WHO’s technical capacities and capabilities to respond to an increasing array of issues. … Third, these reforms help focus the mission of the WHO, which simply does not have the capacity to do everything and has frequently found itself responding to situations rather than setting its own agenda. … Yet at the same time, it is important to view these reforms with a degree of skepticism. First, they fail to address the most glaring weakness in the WHO’s structure: the independence and autonomy of its six regional offices … Second, … these reforms do not address how the organization should interact with [other] major global health players … Finally, … the fact remains that the WHO fundamentally lacks resources … If they succeed, Tedros’ proposed reforms could be his signature accomplishment. If they fail, though, they could further damage the WHO’s standing within the global community” (3/19).