Lanhee Chen: The World Health Organization Desperately Needs Reform

The World Health Organization botched its response to the novel coronavirus. It legitimized China’s early and misleading claims about the disease, which set back the initial response to the virus in other countries, including in the US.

What’s needed now is an independent investigation of the WHO’s reaction to the coronavirus crisis and an accounting of the interactions between the WHO’s leadership and China’s government.

We must also press for a new leader for the WHO. The current leader of the group, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has not been transparent in a number of critical decisions, all while showing allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party on critical matters. Sidelining him now would let us identify a successor we can support while empowering others at the organization who will emphasize values like accountability and openness in the WHO’s ongoing efforts.

These reforms are urgently needed. Because as long as the organization plays the role it does, lives are at stake.