WHO sets up panel to review handling of coronavirus pandemic

WION Web Team Geneva, Switzerland Jul 09, 2020, 05.46 PM(IST)

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks at World Health Assembly virtual meeting Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The announcement follows strong criticism by US President Donald Trump's administration, which accused the WHO of being 'China-centric', and US formal notification on Tuesday that it was withdrawing from the U.N. agency in a year's time.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that it was setting up an independent panel to review its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the response by governments.

The announcement follows strong criticism by US President Donald Trump's administration, which accused the WHO of being "China-centric", and US formal notification on Tuesday that it was withdrawing from the U.N. agency in a year's time.

Also read: Trump administration begins formal withdrawal from WHO

"Through you the world will understand the truth of what happened and also the solutions to build our future better as one humanity," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the UN agency's headquarters in Geneva.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf have agreed to head the panel and chose its members, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual meeting with representatives of WHO's 194 member states, which was webcast.

Also read: China defends WHO, slams US move to withdraw

"This is not a standard report that ticks a box and is then put on a shelf to gather dust. This is something we take seriously," Tedros said, adding that the panel would provide an interim report to an annual meeting of health ministers being reconvened in November.

Clark, addressing the meeting, said that the assignment "could only be described as exceptionally challenging".

Tedros also said that a divided planet could not conquer the coronavirus crisis, after the US formally started its withdrawal from the UN agency.

"We cannot defeat this pandemic as a divided world... Together is the solution unless we want to give the advantage to the enemy, to the virus that has taken the world hostage," he said at the agency's Geneva headquarters.

Tedros noted that in May, WHO's member states adopted unanimously a resolution put forward by the European Union calling for an evaluation of the global response to the pandemic.

More than 12 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 548,429​ have died, according to a Reuters tally.

(With inputs from agencies)