World health leaders are expected to call for an independent review of the international response to the Covid-19 pandemic at a meeting this week.
Representatives of 194 from member states of the World Health Organization will virtually meet for the 73rd World Health Assembly.
The coronavirus pandemic will take center stage.
Questions will be asked about how the virus has infected more than 4.5 million people and killed more than 300,000 people.
Each year, countries meet during the assembly to review the work of the United Nations health agency and set priorities for the coming year.
The European Union should lead an international call, alongside countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, for an investigation into how the global pandemic has been managed and the lessons to be learned .
EU spokeswoman Virginie Battu-Henriksson said there are several key questions that must be answered in any review.
“How did this pandemic spread? What is the epidemiology behind it? All of this is absolutely crucial for us in the future. To avoid another pandemic of this type. “
But, she said, now was not the time to get into “any blame game.”
The World Health Organization is likely to be subject to numerous pressures on its handling of the pandemic at the meeting.
WHO spokesperson Dr Margaret Harris said: “The World Health Assembly is still the time of many. [of the WHO]. “
But, she added, the organization would remain “laser focused” to work on leading the global response, science and solutions to this pandemic.
WHO is supposed to represent the interests of all of its member states as well, but it found itself at the center of a political battle between China and the United States.
This culminated last month with the United States – WHO’s largest single donor – who withdrew funds from the agency after President Trump accused him of mismanagement and concealing the spread of the virus. in China.
The United Nations agency is an advisory body and has no power to impose or compel countries to share information.
The assembly is also expected to hear calls to give more power to WHO, which would allow inspectors to travel to countries at the start of the outbreaks and to conduct independent investigations.
Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, said: “The great challenge of epidemics is that no country wants to have them.
“Each country wants to deny that it is there, and each country wants to minimize the deaths. “
Countries are currently required to notify emerging diseases in their countries to WHO under the International Health Regulations. These suggested powers would go even further.
Professor Sridhar added: “If WHO can send an international technical mission whose job is not to blame or point the finger, but to really identify the origin of an epidemic, and to provide the best advice to other countries, which could be a positive way to prevent outbreaks. ”