The WHO’s governing board agreed on Monday (May 30) to form a new committee to help speed up its response to health emergencies like COVID-19.
The U.N. Health Agency faced criticism for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the pace of its response to early cases that may have delayed detection and helped the virus to spread.
The resolution, passed unanimously at the 34-member Executive Board’s annual meeting, will form a new Standing Committee on Health Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response to help address some of the perceived shortcomings.
Formal WHO meetings are sometimes spaced months apart, and under the new initiative, the new body would meet immediately after the director-general declares a Public Health Emergency of International Concern—a decision that triggers calls for extra funding, public health measures and a series of restriction recommendations aimed at controlling disease spread.
The new committee would also conduct oversight of WHO’s health emergencies program in ordinary times to ensure it is fit to respond.
“I think the standing committee will be an indispensable part of the new global architecture on health emergency,” he added.
The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Japan were among the co-sponsors of the initiative.