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Reform process might undermine WHO's constitutional mandate and its core functions. Our statements at the Special Session of the WHO Executive Board on WHO reform, November 2011

Reform process might undermine WHO's constitutional mandate and its core functions. Our statements at the Special Session of the WHO Executive Board on WHO reform, November 2011

The report by the Director General “WHO Reforms for a healthy future”, released by the Secretariat of the World Health Organization on 15th October 2011, was the guiding document for a special session of the Executive Board on the WHO reform that took place from 1 to 3 November 2011. Representing the "Democrating Global Health Coalition", Medicus Mundi International Network contributed to the debate with the following short statement (300 words as requested by WHO) read by Remco van de Pas, Wemos, on 1 November:

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Thank you, Chairperson, for the opportunity to address the board on behalf of Medicus Mundi International and the Democratizing Global Health Coalition. We welcome the efforts to improve WHO’s management and functioning, but note some concerns: 

Firstly, an in-depth situation analysis of the World Health Organization must be undertaken to better understand what “disease” the organization suffers from.
The reform must be placed in the context of today’s globalised economy and its multiple crises. We need to analyse the nature of the health crisis and the root causes of WHO’s current situation and constraints, the limitations of its system, and to reaffirm its role as the legitimate leading public actor in global health, as confirmed by the 2011 Rio Declaration on Social Determinants of Health. We recommend the executive board to mandate a commission to undertake such analysis.

Secondly, WHO has embarked on a process that might undermine its Constitutional mandate and its core functions such as coordinating and negotiating global health policies, regulations and norms.
WHO and Member states must remain accountable to citizens for their actions in global public health policymaking and not abdicate their mandated role to gain recognition in competing with new actors, in particular global health public-private partnerships. We urge the executive board to reaffirm the public interest role of WHO.

Thirdly, the reform is a possibility for member states to improve dialogue with public interest civil society organizations. The executive board may wish ensure that recommendations on the relations between NGOs and WHO, established in 2002 through the efforts of the civil society initiative, are implemented, and safeguards put in place to protect the work of the World Health Organization and its governing bodies against conflicts of interests stemming from undue influence from vested interests, as stipulated in the WHO Partnership Strategy that was adopted by WHA resolution 63.10 in 2010.

Thank you.

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  • WHO Executive Board, Special Session of WHO Reform
    Geneva, 1-3 November 2011  - WHO website
  • Democratizing Global Health Coalition: Briefing for WHO member states
    Geneva 31 October 2011 - Analysis of “WHO Reforms for a health future: Report by the DG”  (pdf, short URL: www.bit.ly/dgh-whoreform)
  • Democratizing Global Health Coalition: Statement at WHO EBSS on WHO reform
    read by MMI Network on 1 November 2011 (pdf)
  • Democratizing Global Health Coalition: Statement at WHO EBSS on WHO interactions with NGOs
    read by MMI Network on 3 November 2011 under agenda item 3.4 (pdf)
  • WHO reform: the proposals and the debate
    Watch the new MMI thematic guide

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