WHO Reforms

  • GS Paper – 2 Health Issues Arising Out of Design & Implementation of Policies, Management of Social Sector/Services.

Why in the news?

The Prime Minister recently addressed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Second Global Covid Virtual Summit, emphasising WHO Reforms.

This year, the Indian government has consistently emphasised the need for WHO reform in global forums like as the G20 and BRICS (2021-22). India’s requests for WHO changes have received widespread support, particularly in light of the organization’s handling of the Covid-19 outbreak.

What Reforms Has India Suggested?

  • Strengthening the procedure of declaring a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC):
  • It is critical to provide objective criteria with specific parameters for defining PHEIC.
  • The emphasis in the declaration procedure must be on openness and timeliness.
  • A PHEIC denotes the following situation:
  • Serious, surprising, or strange;
  • Has ramifications for public health beyond the borders of the impacted state; and
  • It is possible that quick international intervention is required.


  • The majority of the WHO’s funding for Programmatic Activities comes from extrabudgetary donations, which, while voluntary, are usually designated. The WHO has very limited leeway in how these monies are spent.
  • There is a need to guarantee that additional budgetary or voluntary contributions are unallocated so that the WHO has the necessary flexibility to use them where they are most needed.
  • There is also a need to consider boosting the WHO’s regular budget so that it can fund the majority of the WHO’s core functions without putting an undue financial strain on poor nations.
  • Ensure financing mechanism and accountability framework transparency:
  • There is no collaborative system in place where real projects and activities are determined in cooperation with member states, and there is no evaluation of value for money and if projects are completed in accordance with member states’ goals or if there are unusual delays.
  • Establishing strong and rigorous financial accountability frameworks will allow for the integrity of financial flows to be maintained.
  • For greater accountability, it is also critical to have a high level of openness in data reporting and money disbursement.

Enhancement of the WHO’s and Member States’ response capacities:

The implementation of the IHR 2005 has revealed major inadequacies in member countries’ fundamental health infrastructure. This has become increasingly apparent in their response to the COVID 19 outbreak.

It is critical that the WHO’s programmatic actions under its General Programme of Work focus on establishing and improving capacities in member states as needed by IHR 2005, which are identified weak or deficient based on Member States’ self-reporting on IHR 2005.

The WHO’s governing system could be improved:

Because WHO is a technical organisation, the majority of its work is done through Technical Committees comprised of independent specialists. Furthermore, given the increasing risks associated with the emergence of disease outbreaks, the role of the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee (IOAC), which is in charge of the performance of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme (WHE), becomes critical.

It is critical that member states have a greater say in how the WHO operates, because it is the states who are responsible for putting the WHO’s technical advice and recommendations into action.

To ensure effective supervision by member states, specific mechanisms such as a Standing Committee of the Executive Board are required.

Improving IHR Implementation:

The IHR (International Health Regulations) 2005 impose a self-reporting obligation on Member States. However, IHR implementation reviews are entirely voluntary.

IHR (2005) is a legally binding international agreement comprising 196 nations worldwide, including all WHO Member States.

Their goal is to assist the international community in preventing and responding to severe public health threats that have the potential to cross boundaries and affect individuals all over the world.

The IHR implementation should be reviewed on a voluntary basis in the future.

It is vital to prioritise increased international collaboration aimed at assisting developing nations in areas where they have been recognised as lacking the required competence to implement the IHR.

Therapeutics, vaccinations, and diagnostics:

The TRIPS flexibilities offered for public health in the Doha Declaration have been deemed insufficient to respond with situations like as the Covid-19 outbreak.

It is critical to ensure fair, cheap, and equitable access to all methods for combatting the Covid-19 epidemic, and hence a framework for their distribution.

Global Framework for the Management of Infectious Diseases and Pandemics:

There is a need to establish a monitoring mechanism and provide assistance to member nations regarding International Health Regulations, infrastructure readiness, human resources, and related health system capacities such as testing and surveillance systems.

Enhancement of countries’ capacities for preparing for and responding to pandemic infectious diseases, including guidance on effective public health and economic measures for health emergencies, through the use of a multidisciplinary approach that includes social science as well as health and natural sciences.

Hosted Partnerships’ Role in Pandemic Management:

The dangers presented to humanity by emerging influenza viruses that cause greater illness outbreaks are extremely serious.

The global community must address this issue urgently by making significant efforts and assuring vigilance and preparation in our healthcare systems.

The fundamental goal should be to increase global pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response capability, as well as to boost our ability to combat any future epidemic.


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