The World Health Organisation (WHO) and China were too slow in their reaction to the emerging coronavirus pandemic, the Geneva-based Independent Panel for Pandemic Readiness and Response, said on Tuesday.
The panel was created by WHO Chief Tedros Ghebreyesus in July to evaluate the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The body is co-chaired by ex-Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark and former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Earlier in the day, the co-chairs presented the panel’s second report to the WHO Executive Board.
The two noted that the report showed the WHO at times was too slow in its reaction.
“Our report makes it clear that the world is more reliant on an effective WHO than ever before.
“But while Member States turn to the WHO for leadership, they have kept it under-powered and under-resourced to do the job expected of it,” Sirleaf said.
She explained that when a potential threat emerges in any country, the WHO can only ask it for access and wait until it is granted.
Therefore, member states themselves should provide more resources and opportunities to the WHO, the co-chair added.
Clark, in turn, noted that China could also have been faster in its response.
The statement about the discovery of 27 cases in Wuhan was made public only a week after their detection. The city was not immediately put on lockdown.
She also stated that when the WHO declared a public health emergency of international concern on Jan. 30, many countries still took minimal action to prevent the spread internally and internationally.
“One question is whether it would have helped if WHO had used the word pandemic earlier than it did.
“Although the term pandemic is neither used nor defined in the International Health Regulations (2005), its use does serve to focus attention on the gravity of a health event.
“It was not until March 11 that WHO used the term,” the report added.
The panel will introduce its final report to the World Health Assembly in May. (Sputnik/NAN)