The World Health Organization (WHO) hosted a special session of its Executive Board this week, providing an opportunity for discussion and review with Member States and seeking their guidance regarding strategic response efforts for COVID-19.
While President Donald Trump announced earlier this year that the United States intends to withdraw from the WHO entirely, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stated that it would, in the interim, continue to contribute to and attempt to influence WHO to push it toward what it views as more independent, impartial, and transparent operations.
Leading the U.S. delegation was HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir, M.D. Through a virtual platform, he joined with colleagues from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the longstanding need to focus WHO on information sharing and coordination during disease outbreaks, and Admiral Giroir will play a key role as the United States works with nations around the world to reform WHO with that goal in mind,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said.
The special session included an interim report on WHO activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic since January 2020 and laid out steps for future response. Updates were also provided by the co-chairs of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, the chair of the IHR Review Committee, and the chair of the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme.