The World Health Organization, under pressure, has agreed to an independent probe of how it handled its response to the coronavirus. Such an investigation must be thorough and transparent if the organization hopes to repair its damaged reputation.
Despite reports in late January of an increasingly deadly virus infecting thousands in China and spreading to Europe, the WHO did not declare a global pandemic until March 11. President Donald Trump has blamed the organization for its delay, and said he was considering cutting U.S. funding for the WHO.
A coalition of African, European and other countries have called for a “comprehensive evaluation” of the WHO’s coordination of the global response.
If the probe is to carry any weight in re-establishing confidence, all issues must be on the table for evaluation.
WHO officials must look at how the organization can be improved and streamlined to cut past the bureaucracy that critics say has bogged down its efforts in the past, notably in dealing with the Ebola outbreak several years ago.
Clearly there are problems within the organization that must be examined and addressed going forward.
Despite the ongoing criticism by the Trump administration, the WHO is an international organization that is needed. Poorer countries depend on the WHO for delivering medical help and supplies in times of crisis. And if the coronavirus pandemic has taught us nothing else, it’s that the world needs an international organization that can quickly identify outbreaks and help coordinate responses.
The independent probe of the WHO’s response efforts must be done quickly and thoroughly.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE