The World Health Organisation (WHO) initiated a discussion on a second health treaty
Official actions are to be discussed more than a year after the pandemic’s devastation, involving 194 member states. As this piece is published, India’s COVID-19 infections have passed 28 million. Is the world at large having an issue of crisis management or a management crisis?
A treaty designated for COVID-19
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director-General acknowledged the severity of the pandemic engulfing the globe, and added the United Nations agency “faced a “serious challenge” to maintain its Covid-19 response at the current level and required sustainable and flexible funding.” He also remarked this treaty would strengthen both the WHO and global health security.
A meeting will take place from 29 November 2021 to deliberate on launching negotiations on this possible treaty. The first health treaty was WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and only officialised in 2003 after four years of negotiations. This COVID-19 treaty will (hopefully) materialise after a few years.
To date, the globe is battling infection by the millions, accompanied by vaccine shortages. Numbers-wise, the virus has hit over 170 million people and killed more than 3.5 million, as verified by John Hopkins University. For a global health official to conclude a treaty is needed is a serious case of a management crisis. WHO has been criticised for being sluggish in its reaction to the pandemic with vaccine shortages and crew change. Health experts have expressed disappointment at WHO since 2020 for being powerless to investigate the virus, chase and contain outbreak locations, plus announcing their findings.
Singapore to begin with announced the virus will be an endemic, and urged the citizens to get vaccinated. Clearly, the country demonstrated its commitment to inoculate the population before deciding if it is safe to open the borders. At a press conference involving Ministers of Health and Education respectively, foreign media were sussing out if vaccines available in Singapore are open to tourists and there would be a cost. That is a clear reflection of how desperate the world population is to get hold of the vaccine, even if it meant more costs. Could the officials have handled it better?