The pandemic shows WHO lacks authority to force governments to divulge information, experts say

The WHO has come under criticism for its deferential tone toward China, but the organization denies it withheld information about COVID-19.

NBC News
Date: May 10, 2020
By Dan De Luce, Robert Windrem and Abigail Williams

Medical workers move a person who died from coronavirus at a hospital in Wuhan, China, on Feb. 16, 2020.Chinatopix via AP file

WASHINGTON — The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the inherent weaknesses of the World Health Organization, which has no authority to force foreign governments to divulge medical information or open doors to its hospitals and labs, public health experts and foreign diplomats say.

The Trump administration and Republican lawmakers have lashed out at the U.N. agency for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, accusing it of helping China conceal the extent of the outbreak at a critical early stage by relaying information from Beijing without sufficient caveats.

But public health experts and foreign diplomats said that although the WHO has often displayed a deferential tone to China during the outbreak, it is misleading to suggest it has the power or the leverage to force Beijing or any other foreign government to share information or grant access to medical facilities.

"There's no power that WHO has that would have enabled it to uncover any lack of transparency on the part of China," said Lawrence Gostin, director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University.    [FULL  STORY]

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