Reforming WHO can be taken up after overcoming Covid-19 pandemic: India

Updated on May 08, 2020 10:43 PM IST

The world community’s focus should remain for now on efforts to fight the Coronavirus, develop a vaccine and medicines and keeping intact crucial supply chains, the people cited above, familiar with thinking at the highest levels of government, said on condition of anonymity.

A logo is pictured on the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) ahead of a meeting of the Emergency Committee on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Geneva, Switzerland.(REUTERS)
A logo is pictured on the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) ahead of a meeting of the Emergency Committee on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Geneva, Switzerland.(REUTERS)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByRezaul H Laskar | Posted by Arpan Rai

India believes proposals for reforming the World Health Organization (WHO), which have been raised in light of its perceived failings in tackling the Covid-19 crisis, should be taken up after the world overcomes the pandemic, people familiar with developments said on Friday.

The world community’s focus should remain for now on efforts to fight the Coronavirus, develop a vaccine and medicines and keeping intact crucial supply chains, the people cited above, familiar with thinking at the highest levels of government, said on condition of anonymity.

During a virtual summit of leaders of G20 states on March 26, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised the issue of strengthening and reforming inter-governmental organisations such as the WHO, which he said continue to be based on the last century’s model and haven’t adapted to deal with new challenges.

Also read: For India, WHO reforms can be the door to UNSC | Opinion

But even after US President Donald Trump announced last month that he would cut funding for the WHO, the Indian government had reacted and said the focus of global efforts should remain on overcoming the pandemic.

“Our position is that, at this time, we should give attention to the Covid-19 crisis. Issues such as the WHO’s mandate and an investigation of its working can be taken up later, when we have dealt with the immediate issue,” said one of the people cited above.

During the prime minister’s recent conversations with heads of state and government and in external affairs minister S Jaishankar’s discussions with his counterparts, the focus has been on combating Covid-19 and finding solutions to the worldwide crisis, the people said.

“All our conversations with heads of state or government or with foreign ministers have been about how to cooperate to deal with the crisis and work together to develop vaccines and therapeutic solutions,” the first person said.

“The conversations have also been about reliable supply chains that can be of use to states,” the person added.

The people, however, made it clear that India wants to see the WHO’s mandate strengthened. India also wants to work with others on ways to increase the WHO’s capacity to handle pandemics and crises, they added.

“These are issues we can come to when we have more breathing space to deal with them,” the person added.

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