With the rise of globalization, countries have become tightly interconnected, encouraging both domestic and international travel. Public health has become a global concern – an outbreak in one region has the potential to spread to other continents quickly because of the fast movement of people across the globe. The World Health Organization (WHO) is the leading global organization that coordinates public health actions of all members of the United Nations. The recent outbreak of a previously unknown type of coronavirus has shown the capabilities of the WHO in practice. This paper will review its role in the mitigation of the pandemic and provide a future agenda based on its current priorities.
The WHO’s primary responsibilities include informing the public about communicable diseases, and COVID-19 can be considered as such. Therefore, the international community expected an immediate reaction from the organization. The WHO relies significantly on the information provided by the governments of the member states and this dependence was scrutinized amidst the outbreak because China has been known for lack of transparency (WHO, 2020).
Critics believe that the WHO should take an active role in the collection of data and supervision of public health (Sohrabi et al., 2020). However, while fake news and information about COVID-19 were spreading throughout the internet, the WHO has been an agency to provide reliable data and methods of preventing coronavirus (Heymann & Shindo, 2020). The WHO is also coordinating research and developing algorithms for the containment of the virus. In the future, the organization may revise its data collection strategies, and continue its work on the prevention of communicable diseases, as it stays as the most prioritized area (WHO, 2020). In particular, the organization will probably make substantial investments in finding a cure for HIV/AIDS.
Global issues require a significant amount of cooperation and coordination of activities. In the context of public health, the WHO is the leading organization that is responsible for providing reliable data and setting a course of direction. The recent outbreak of the new coronavirus has demonstrated potential weaknesses of the organization. However, it should be noted that the organization has done significant work to inform the public about the virus, develop prevention strategies, and aid countries that are most affected.
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Sohrabi, C., Alsafi, Z., O’Neill, N., Khan, M., Kerwan, A., Al-Jabir, A.,… & Agha, R. (2020). World Health Organization declares global emergency: A review of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). International Journal of Surgery. 76, 71-76.
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