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Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

The World Health Organization, which faced fierce U.S. criticism over its handling of the coronavirus crisis, launched an independent panel to review its response to the pandemic.


  • Through the Independent panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, the world will understand the truth of what happened and also the solutions to build our future better as one humanity.
  • At their annual assembly WHO member states agreed to an independent probe into the UN agency’s coronavirus response, following repeated U.S. attacks.
  • The panel will stage one mission briefing per month to give updates, while it will present an interim report to the next World Health Assembly gathering.

Background to the Situation: What other countries said/did

  • President Donald Trump threatened to freeze US funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), saying the international group had “missed the call” on the coronavirus pandemic, and accusing the WHO was very “Chinacentric” in its approach. U.S. suggested that the WHO had gone along with Beijing’s efforts months ago to under-represent the severity of the outbreak.
  • The resolution, tabled by the European Union, called for an “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation”.
  • Australia and other countries also were suggestive of inquiry into the WHO’s handling of the pandemic in the early stages.

U.S. withdrawal

The United States formally started its withdrawal from the WHO.

This comes as a follow up on the threats to deprive the UN body of its top donor, the U.S. over its management of the pandemic.

World Health Organization (WHO)

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health.
  • It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Its main objective is ensuring “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.”
  • The WHO’s broad mandate includes advocating for universal healthcare, monitoring public health risks, coordinating responses to health emergencies, and promoting human health and well-being.
  • The World Health Assembly (WHA), composed of representatives from all 194 member states, serves as the agency’s supreme decision-making body.

World Health Assembly (WHA)

  • The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of WHO.
  • It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board.
  • The Health Assembly is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland (sometimes in special sessions).

The main functions of the World Health Assembly are:

  • To determine the policies of the Organization
  • Appoint the Director-General
  • Supervise financial policies
  • Review and approve the proposed programme budget.
  • Reporting to the Economic and Social Council in accordance with any agreement between the Organization and the United Nations.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023