Right here is an summary of the primary criticisms and plaudits the United Nations well being company has confronted because the Covid-19 outbreak first surfaced in China in December 2019.
Acted too slowly
From the very begin, the WHO confronted criticism that it was mishandling the disaster.
Some accused it of taking too lengthy to recognise that the virus was simply transmitting between people.
However many of the criticism has targeted on its preliminary reluctance to declare a world well being emergency, and specifically to utter the phrase “pandemic”.
The WHO discovered on December 31, 2019 of a mysterious pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan and has repeatedly insisted it instantly jumped into motion.
But it surely was not till January 30, 2020 that WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the scenario a Public Well being Emergency of Worldwide Concern — the best degree of alarm underneath worldwide well being guidelines.
High WHO specialists had gathered per week earlier, however initially didn’t agree on whether or not the PHEIC label was warranted at a time when, outdoors China, there have been fewer than 100 Covid-19 instances and no deaths.
And whereas the PHEIC technically is the best degree of alarm, many international locations didn’t spring into motion till Tedros lastly used the phrase “pandemic” on March 11.
The phrase, which doesn’t function within the official worldwide well being alert system, seems to have extra aptly conveyed the urgency of the scenario, sending massive swathes of the planet into lockdown.
Kowtowing to China
From the beginning, the UN well being company met criticism for its over-the-top reward of Beijing’s early response to the disaster.
It was additionally lambasted for permitting greater than a 12 months to go earlier than managing to ship in a staff of worldwide specialists to analyze the origins of the virus, and was accused of permitting China to dictate the parameters of their mission.
Former US president Donald Trump slammed the WHO as a “puppet” of Beijing, which his administration and others accused of protecting up the beginning of the outbreak and permitting the virus to unfold across the total world.
The USA — historically WHO’s largest donor — additionally started withdrawing from the organisation.
Whereas that course of was instantly reversed when Trump’s successor Joe Biden entered the White Home in January, his administration has additionally expressed “deep issues” in regards to the early findings of the WHO professional mission to China.
A lot of the criticism lobbed on the WHO has revolved round insufficient and shifting suggestions, particularly on the usefulness of carrying facemasks to guard in opposition to transmission of Covid-19.
Early on within the pandemic, when surgical masks have been in devastatingly quick provide, the UN company understandably inspired leaving accessible shares to well being personnel and people caring for Covid sufferers.
It in the meantime additionally repeatedly instructed that facemasks worn by most of the people risked doing extra hurt than good, since they may maybe give a false sense of safety, and in addition folks could be touching their face extra.
On April 6, 2020, the WHO repeated that generalised use of facemasks was not justified except different safety measures like bodily distancing weren’t doable.
It was not till June 5 that the WHO really useful carrying facemasks in high-density areas in areas hard-hit by Covid-19.
The worldwide well being physique has additionally confronted criticism for not calling for border closures or the halt of worldwide air journey to stop the virus from spreading.
Communication is king
Whereas the WHO could have been criticised for initially reacting too slowly, it has been lauded for its large communication efforts.
From the very starting, the company has hosted a cascade of press conferences and worldwide conferences of specialists and political leaders, whereas offering fixed social media updates.
Tedros, flanked by different prime WHO officers, has spoken to the media and at different public occasions on an virtually every day foundation for greater than a 12 months, hammering house suggestions and refuting criticism.
The WHO chief, who can be omnipresent on social media, has additionally surrounded himself with a flurry of celebrities to assist unfold the company’s message on combating the pandemic.
The organisation dampened a few of the criticism in opposition to it by launching an impartial probe into the worldwide pandemic response, together with its personal actions.
Nobel Peace Prize?
The WHO has been roundly praised, specifically by poorer nations, for its assist for international locations’ pandemic response, offering protecting gear, assessments and different gadgets the place wanted.
However the Covax vaccine distribution initiative, geared toward making certain equitable entry to Covid jabs all over the world, has garnered probably the most consideration.
The scheme is aiming to distribute two billion doses this 12 months, and aspires to vaccinate well being employees and probably the most susceptible 20 p.c of the inhabitants within the 92 poorest taking part international locations.
WHO and the co-backers of the initiative — Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Improvements (CEPI) — have even been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.