COVID-19: ‘Let’s help the WHO help all of us’

“I call on all member States of the Council of Europe and all relevant partners to step up and support the World Health Organization (WHO), both morally and financially, in a spirit of global solidarity,” declared Luís Leite Ramos (Portugal, EPP/CD), Chairperson of PACE’s Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development.

“In the medium term, we need a stronger, more powerful WHO, which is properly funded and not dependent on voluntary contributions to fulfil its essential functions. In the current crisis, as a first and immediate step towards this goal, states and partners should immediately contribute to the COVID-19 response fund.”

The Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Public Health and Sustainable Development, Jennifer De Temmerman (France, ALDE), explained: “Once this pandemic is over, we need to look at how we can reform the WHO in order to allow it to better fulfil its function of achieving the highest attainable standard of health for everyone. This is not just a question of money: WHO should also be given the necessary power to visit member States unannounced, as can, for example, the Council of Europe’s European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT).”

Ms De Temmerman added: “With more power should also come more responsibility and accountability. Parliamentary oversight is sorely lacking at the WHO. Any WHO reform should also introduce an element of such oversight, which is essential for building trust and solidarity.”

“But first, let’s help the WHO help us and everyone else everywhere who needs help right now. We need to help the WHO save the lives and safeguard the health of the poor, the marginalised, children, the elderly, people with disabilities – of humanity as a whole. Let’s make sure that no one is left behind in this pandemic and shore up the COVID19 response fund,” concluded Mr Leite Ramos.