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“As has now been shown in sharp relief, the WHO lacks the necessary funding and full capabilities needed to effectively control the global spread of infectious diseases. Failures and weaknesses throughout the international system, including WHO but also national governments who design multilateral institutions for short-term benefit, have led us to where we are today.
In November, the World Health Organization will select its next regional director for Africa. As we wrote in a previous blog, this position is not posted publicly and has no independent mechanism in place to recommend, interview, and evaluate the best qualified candidates.
This week the World Health Organization held a major international meeting on universal health coverage (UHC), with Director General Margaret Chan reaffirming her regard for universal coverage “as the single most powerful concept that public health has to offer.” While the term “universal” signals that the entire population will be “covered,” an unanswered question is: covered with what? Another way to put the question: What health benefits or interventions would represent coverage, taking into account UHC’s implicit goals of improved health, equity and financial protection?
As a new WHO Director-General—Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus—prepares to take office, many have called for clearer priorities, governance and organizational reforms, and funding expansions. All good, but there is one additional, grossly neglected issue that requires urgent action: WHO needs better economic advice. As I explain in this blogpost, that should come in the form of appointing WHO’s own chief economist.