Facing flak over its initial handling of COVID-19 and controversies surrounding its ties with the World Health Organisation, China on Thursday said it supports "necessary and reasonable" reform to the global health body to enhance its capability to deal with public health emergencies. Asked about reports that the European Union plans to initiate measures to bring about transparency in WHO and adoption of measures to make its International Health Regulations(IHR), which requires member states to quickly share information on health emergencies more effective, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian during a media briefing here said that it supports reforms to improve the functioning of the UN health agency.
“China supports necessary and reasonable reform to the WHO to enhance its capability to deal with public health emergencies so that it can better play its core role in global public health governance," Zhao said. Zhao was asked about a report that EU is calling for reforms to the WHO to make countries more transparent on national compliance with the IHR which requires member states to quickly share information on health emergencies.
In his reply, Zhao said efforts can be made to rule out political disruption through reforms on the level of institutions and rules, respect science and professional views, and reject politicisation and stigmatisation. He said WHO can be equipped with ampler resources to increase its capacity to handle global public health crises and to uphold the concept of a community of health for all and step up support and input for developing countries' public health cause.
The reform should be advanced based on consensus reached through broad consultation among member states, not to serve any country's selfish political interests," he said. WHO faced stringent criticism especially from US President Donald Trump who accused it of being a "puppet" of China for not acting in time to halt the spread of COVID-19.
In his address to the UN General Assembly on September 23, Trump also attacked WHO, saying that it is virtually controlled by China. Besides halting funding for WHO, the Trump administration has formally notified the UN of its decision to withdraw the US from the global health body, breaking off ties with it amid the raging coronavirus pandemic all over the world.
WHO has assembled a team of global scientists to probe the origin of COVID-19 and is awaiting Beijing's approval to visit the country. In May, the annual meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the Geneva-based WHO currently headed by India, passed a unanimous resolution to probe the origin of the virus. China also backed the resolution.