WHO’s Reforms, Future Leader Should Address Fundraising, Improving Epidemic Responses

Foreign Policy: WHO’s Fairy Dust Financing
Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations

“…[I]t will take a lot more than minor reorganization and promises of cash to bring the World Health Organization (WHO) and its 194 member nations up to readiness status for … future epidemics. That kind of preparedness begins with leadership and mutual trust between the institutions of public health, political leaders, and the populations they are supposed to serve. This is a feat that WHO has not, by any measure, accomplished. … [F]or the last two years, the [World Health Assembly] has added the equivalent of fairy dust to the mix, voting for budget increases but then leaving it up to Director-General Margaret Chan to mysteriously conjure up the agreed-upon additions. … Th[e] Ise-Shima G7 summit … calls for WHO reform, improved epidemic responses, and funds to support them. … One low-cost item that could cut through the fairy dust would involve changing how WHO chooses its next leader. … [However, the new voting] process stinks and is unlikely to produce a new leader fit to lead WHO and stand at the helm of the next pandemic…” (5/27).