The WHO’s Insufficient Curiosity and Humility
Five months from now, health ministers from the 194 sovereign states recognized by the United Nations (UN) will meet in Geneva to discuss and possibly agree to amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHRs), which are intended to “prevent, protect against, prepare, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of diseases.” Ministers will also be asked to approve the text of a new World Health Organization (WHO) convention to combat future pandemics.
While there is a need to coordinate the detection of and response to potential pandemics, it is not clear what role, if any, the WHO should have. Perhaps more importantly, it is uncertain what policies should be put in place (and by whom) to prevent, limit, and respond to any future pandemic. The U.S. government should encourage the WHO to delay both changes to the IHRs and the introduction of a new treaty until several issues are satisfactorily resolved.