WHO prepares to host 73rd Assembly mired in controversy

By Antonio Broto

Geneva, May 17 (efe-epa).- The World Health Organization, which has been at the forefront of the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic but has not managed to escape controversy, is preparing to launch one of its most complex assemblies since the organization’s birth.

On Monday representatives of the United Nation’s 194 member states will gather for the 73rd Assembly devoted almost entirely to strengthen global coordination against the Covid-19 pandemic.

The assembly will last two days and will be held in a virtual format due to restrictions in place to curb the spread of the virus.

The annual meeting comes at a time when WHO has attracted unprecedented global attention for its coordinating and advisory role during the pandemic which affects 4.5 million people worldwide and has caused more 300,000 deaths.

But the organization has not escaped criticism nor controversy during its handling of the crisis, with the bulk of accusations of mismanagement coming from the United States government, but also Australia and Germany.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has weathered much of the criticism and has been accused by US President Donald Trump of being biased towards Chinese information in the first weeks of the outbreak at the beginning of the year.

Ghebreyesus famously said that China had set “a new standard for outbreak control” and that the country’s actions had “bought the world time”.

This did not stop Trump from freezing US funding of WHO in April, which amounts to around 15 percent of the organization’s entire budget.

Up until then, the US, currently the world’s Covid-19 hotspot with 1.5 million infections, has traditionally been the UN-backed organization’s main donor.

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