WION Edit: Has the WHO failed in its fight against coronavirus?

Delhi Mar 25, 2020, 08.19 PM(IST) Written By: WION

A man wearing a face mask takes a walk on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade on March 24, 2020 in New York. Photograph:( AFP )

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WHO relies on its members for funding to operate, such a set up gives wealthy countries like China the upper hand, as well as, considerable influence.

The Wuhan coronavirus has taken almost 20 thousand lives now. Every day, the numbers are rising. We are battling a full-blown health crisis.

China is guilty of covering up the outbreak, but what about the world's biggest multilateral health organisation --- the WHO? Has the World Health Organisation done enough?

Taiwan says the WHO failed to do enough, it ignored the warnings and succumbed to pressure from 
 China. Taiwan has been barred from membership of the WHO, but its arguments have merits.

WATCH: Is WHO doing enough? 

The coronavirus crisis began in January and the WHO has always seemed a step behind. It declared the outbreak a global health emergency when more than eight thousand people were infected already.

It dragged its heels when it was supposed to declare a pandemic. It's unfortunate, but history is repeating itself. During the SARS outbreak of 2002, China committed the same lapses.

China's health ministry was aware for months, but they didn't tell the world. Consequently, SARS spread to 29 countries and 774 people were killed.

In 2005, WHO saw sweeping reforms and international health regulations were revised. This includes the authority to act upon information from non-state sources.

The WHO Director-General was empowered to declare an outbreak a public health emergency, even if states directly affected by the crisis object.

The WHO was also given powers to name and shame those countries, that do not comply with the international health regulations.

Did the World Health Organisation follow the new rulebook now? They did not call out China for suppressing facts. Instead, Beijing was praised for its response.

WHO relies on its members for funding to operate, such a set up gives wealthy countries like China the upper hand, as well as, considerable influence.

The biggest example of that is how China has been able to effectively block Taiwan's entry into the WHO.

WHO is the only organisation that can declare a pandemic, it is the only world body that can mobilize internationally in the event of health threats, but the current coronavirus outbreak shows that it has a broken setup - one that can be easily influenced by powerful nations.

 (Disclaimer: WION Edit is the channel's take on the big events of the world)