Ambassador urges Aust role in WHO reform

Paul Osborne
·1-min read

The US ambassador to Australia says there is "more to be revealed" about how the World Health Organisation failed to properly tackle the spread of coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic.

Arthur Culvahouse Jr told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday no matter who won the US presidential elections this week there would still be a push to ensure the WHO was "more responsible and more responsive".

Mr Culvahouse reiterated President Donald Trump's view that the WHO "sat on its hands and put us five weeks behind the eight-ball in responding to the COVID crisis".

"That is not a constructive relationship," he said, noting the US was the largest funder of the multilateral body.

The US and Australia agreed at the Ausmin talks in July to re-engage with a number of multilateral organisations including the WHO.

"I think there is more to be revealed, but regardless of who wins (the US elections) both countries and really all like-minded countries need to re-engage with these multilateral institutions to make them more responsible and more responsive," he said.

He said the US and Australia had agreed to cooperatively develop vaccines and make them available worldwide.

Mr Culvahouse rejected criticism of the Trump administration's handling of the pandemic.

"There's a lot of effort in the current administration - more than we are getting credit for - to deal with the pandemic," he said.

"Both countries are going to have to play a leadership role as we chart our way through this pandemic ... we've got work to do and we have lessons to learn."