World health organisation: The challenges of providing global leadership

Pages: 19-33

ISBN: 9780367636838

DOI: 10.4324/9781003120254-3


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has the remit of offering global leadership and guidance on health emergencies and pandemics and so should play a crucial role in the management of strategy and communication concerning new viruses such as COVID-19. While the WHO was very active in supporting research and development, creating apps and databases and launching initiatives in the three most crucial areas, we find significant deficiencies. Partially due to the lack of transparency of the Chinese Government, early announcements were delayed and proven wrong undermining its credibility at the very start. Nation-states were forced to manage the pandemic based on their own experiences and conditions. The lack of clear information was compounded by the WHO being behind nations and airline companies on putting in place travel restrictions and there has been consistently contradictory advice on the efficacy of wearing face coverings. While the WHO were not at the forefront of the infodemic, the institution did little to combat misinformation and indeed provided some spaces where false notions could flourish nurtured by some WHO statements. The chapter analyses the role of the WHO and in doing so raises questions regarding the ability to have any form of global governance.

Source: Scopus