Health ministers from the 27 European states have reached a “unanimous agreement in favor of reforms” at the WHO, which needs to become “more transparent, more efficient and stronger,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday.
“We want to start now and not wait for the end of the pandemic (covid-19). This debate must take place in parallel, “insisted Spahn, whose country holds the six-month presidency of the European Union.
European ministers debated the content of a joint declaration to be adopted in November.
In the draft of this statement, which AFP writes that it consulted, the EU appreciates that the WHO, which is at the forefront of the fight against the spread of covid-19, is ill-equipped to deal with it.
“Although the WHO has a broad mandate, the recent pandemic has shown that the expectations of the international community from the organization (…) generally exceed what the current capabilities of the WHO can provide,” the document said.
The 27 also “take note of the challenges (…) facing the WHO in the current geopolitical context.”
Incumbent US President Donald Trump accuses the WHO of being close to China, where covid-19 appeared, and his administration has launched proceedings to withdraw the United States from the United Nations, whose main financial contributor is Washington.
The 27 could thus call for “further strengthening (…) independence, regulatory activity, technical capacity, accountability, effectiveness and transparency” of the WHO.
Among the avenues explored in the draft declaration is “the possibility of conducting independent on-site epidemiological assessments in high-risk areas (of the spread of the virus) in close connection with the countries concerned”.
China, where the new coronavirus appeared in late 2019, has been widely criticized for refusing entirely independent investigations into its territory at the start of the pandemic.
“We want the G7 member states to have a common position” on these reforms “and to find partners around the world to initiate them (…). We will also discuss with China, “Spahn said, noting that member states may need to increase their contribution.
Over 10 million cases of COVID-19 in Europe
More than ten million cases of covid-19 have been reported in Europe since the beginning of the pandemic in the region earlier this year, according to a report by AFP on Friday night, based on data provided by health authorities.
The 52 countries in the region are the third most affected area in the world in terms of cases, after Latin America-Caribbean (11.2 million czuri) and Asia (10.5).
In terms of the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, Europe ranks second – with almost 275,000 deaths due to covid-19 – after Latin America-Caribbean (almost 399,000) and ahead of the United States and Canada (239,000).
Europe is the region in the world where the epidemic is currently advancing.
The number of new cases detected increased by 41% in one week, and half of the new contaminations recorded during this period in the world were registered in Europe.