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  • The WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, 2019.

    The WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 9 July 2020
Opinion

The announcement comes two days after the U.S. formalized its intention to leave this multilateral institution in 2021.

The World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Thursday announced the creation of an independent commission to review the performance of his institution in the current pandemic.

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The panel will be chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

"It is time to reflect on what we have done and look for new ways to collaborate," Tedros said and proposed a meeting of the WHO Executive Committee in September to analyze the progress of the commission's work.

The Commission "will seek to understand what happened, give honest advice and help us see what can be done to prevent the current tragedy from happening again," he added.

At its general assembly in May, the WHO approved a "fair, independent, and comprehensive" review of its response to the pandemic, although it did not specify when it would begin.

Tedros vowed that the Commission will not be "another blue-ribbon panel that issues a report that goes up on the bookshelf" and suggested that its final report be officially presented at the WHO annual meeting in May 2021.

"We are ready for honest reflection to learn lessons," he said, adding that "the magnitude of the pandemic clearly deserves serious evaluation."

The WHO director-general reiterated that the coronavirus "takes advantage of our divisions", so he appealed to global unity and solidarity.

This announcement comes two days after the White House communicated to the WHO that it was starting the process to withdraw the United States from this multilateral institution, which would happen on July 6, 2021.

In April, besides announcing a temporary freeze on the funds the U.S. contributes to the WHO, President Donald Trump accused the institution of being "biased" in favor of China and having mismanaged the health emergency of COVID-19.

Until now, the United States was the largest donor to the WHO and contributed between US$400 million and US$500 million, which is approximately 15 percent of its annual budget.

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