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Strengthening the World Health Organization: the EU is ready to take the leading role

The Council and the representatives of the governments of the member states recently approved conclusions on the role of the EU in strengthening the World Health Organization (WHO).

The conclusions acknowledge the central role of the WHO as the leading and coordinating authority in addressing global health challenges. At the same time, they recall that during many pandemics expectations on WHO have often outweighed its capacities and its ability to support its member states in developing strong and resilient health systems.

The Council and the representatives of the governments of the member states express their commitment to take a coordinating, proactive and leading role in an inclusive process to strengthen global health security and the WHO, in particular its capacity for preparedness and response in health emergencies. The conclusions also list suggestions for measures which could be envisaged in relation to further strengthening the WHO. Those suggestions are without prejudice to the ongoing reviews and evaluations of the WHO, and include:

  • a revision of the alert system for declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern to allow for differentiated levels of alerts
  • a distinction between travel and trade restrictions under the International Health Regulations (IHR) in order to avoid unnecessary harm to economies
  • the possibility of an independent epidemiological assessment on-site in high risk zones in close collaboration with the state party
  • increased transparency on national compliance with the IHR

The conclusions were approved by written procedure.

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