Biden Seeks New Unilateral Powers For WHO Chief To Declare Public Health Emergencies
The proposed U.S. amendments were forwarded to the WHO in January for consideration next week by the UN's 75th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.
In a Jan. 26 letter to a virtual meeting of WHO's executive board, Loyce Pace, Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) described "the importance of equity and equitable access to medical countermeasures and the negative impacts of misinformation and disinformation related to the pandemic. We agree that we must all do better.
"The United States led an inclusive and transparent process to develop this decision, as we are mindful that updating and modernizing the IHR [International Health Regulations] are critical to ensuring the world is better prepared for and can respond to, the next pandemic."
Among the proposed U.S. amendments, one removes an existing requirement in Section 9 that WHO "consult with and seek to obtain verification" from officials in a nation in which a health crisis is suspected before making any public declarations. The same amendment provides that "WHO may take into account reports from sources other than notifications or consultations" from the nation with the suspected problem.
A proposed change to Section 5 would direct WHO to establish “early warning criteria for assessing and progressively updating the national, regional, or global risk posed by an event of unknown causes or sources.”
A proposed amendment to Section 10 requires that the WHO, in the event the nation with the suspected problem doesn’t cooperate within 48 hours, shall “when justified by the magnitude of the public health risk, immediately share with other [nations] the information available to it.”
Nowhere do the amendments or accompanying documents explain how or why U.S. public health officials believe the equity issue in health care would be addressed by giving Tedros the authority to declare a public health emergency on the basis of information provided by a source other than the affected nation.