Pilloried over Covid-19 response, WHO opts for truncated annual meet in May - world news

The World Health Organisation has decided to go for a truncated annual meet on May 18 with a limited agenda amid efforts by countries such as Australia to push for an international investigation into the coronavirus pandemic.

In a communication sent to member states, the WHO said it would not be appropriate to take up the nearly 60 items that had been placed on the provisional agenda less than 20 days ago.

This is being done to provide crucial international focus on Covid-19 that has killed nearly 180,000 people worldwide in a matter of months, it said.

Instead, the WHO document proposes that the 73rd World Health Assembly consider an abridged agenda. This would include opening of the health assembly, address by Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that would be focused on Covid-19 preparedness and response and the formal election to the 10 seats on the executive board that will fall vacant.

Hindustan Times has accessed the document.

The session would begin on 18 May and end the next day. A fuller version of the assembly would be held later.

The only items to be taken up would be what were described as “uncontroversial items” such as resolutions and decisions recommended by consensus by the WHO’s executive board. These would be considered to have been cleared by the health assembly if no country objects to them.

During the virtual session, member countries will 2 minutes each to make their point. Regional and group statements have been limited to 4 minutes but they can all submit written submissions that would be uploaded to the WHO website.

Information about the WHO opting for the abridged version came days after US President Donald Trump took sharp swipes at the global health body for what he described as its flawed recommendations on the Covid-19 outbreak in China. The US believes that the WHO-led by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus sided with China to play down the disease that originated in China’s Wuhan city. It is an allegation that Tedros Adhanom, a former foreign and health minister of Ethiopia, has denied.

But the WHO chief hasn’t been able to convince many of his critics.

On Thursday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared that his country would push for an international investigation into the pandemic at the meeting of the decision-making body of the WHO.

“The World Health Assembly is coming up in May. There are opportunities to pursue that matter there and that is our first port of call,” Morrison said, according to news agency Reuters.

.Australia sits on the executive board of the assembly, which determines WHO policies. Next month, it will be India’s turn. Besides, New Delhi will also get the position of the executive board’s chairperson.

Morrison had already phoned leaders in France, Germany and the United States to lobby support and could call Britain and Canada next,

Australia has overcome the worst of its coronavirus outbreak, which is why it has moved on to lobbying other countries to support its call for an enquiry, but it understood that other nations were still dealing with high death rates, government, Reuters said, quoting unnamed sources.

2020-04-23 04:51:20
April 23, 2020