Coronavirus: Scott Morrison 'wants drastic shake-up of WHO'

Yahoo News Staff
·3-min read

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is lobbying world leaders to overhaul the World Health Organisation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Morrison wants the WHO to have powers equivalent of a weapons inspector – allowing the organisation to enter a country to investigate a virus without invitation, the ABC reported.

Currently, the organisation has to be invited to investigate.

The ABC understands the government is skeptical of whether the WHO would accept changes and would be willing to develop a new global body for health.

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison is pictured. He has spoken to a number of world leaders, including Donald Trump, about the World Health Organisation.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has spoken with a number of world leaders, including the US President about the World Health Organisation. Source: AAP (file pic)

Mr Morrison tweeted on Wednesday he had been in touch with US President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron about the WHO.

The prime minister wouldn’t go into the contents of those conversations, but said the discussion looked at “the need for greater international cooperation in response to pandemics, including a vaccine”.

“We also talked about the WHO and working together to improve the transparency and effectiveness of international responses to pandemics,” he tweeted.

So far more than 178,000 people have died from COVID-19 and more than 2.5 million infected around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The WHO has been widely criticised for reacting too slowly to the virus and for accepting China’s downplaying of it as COVID-19 spread from the country’s epicentre of Wuhan.

There’s also been criticism China’s had too much influence over the WHO including the recent decision to allow the re-opening of controversial wet markets where it’s believed the virus originated.

"I know they have had their criticism and, frankly, I think it has been quite deserved," Mr Morrison told reporters last week.

"We have got to remember also that while they might have had a few poor outings lately there is also some very important work they have been doing."

The prime minister said Australia was reviewing its engagement with the WHO as part of a wider review of international bodies he announced in October.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the WHO needed to be called out over allowing Wuhan to reopen its wet markets.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a daily press briefing on COVID-19 virus at the WHO headquarters on in Geneva.
World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a meeting in Geneva last month. Source: Getty Images

Mr Dutton said it was clear through a number of instances, including the SARS outbreak, that wet markets were a significant problem.

"China needs to change some of its ways including in relation to the wet markets and the way in which that has led to the spread of disease," he said.

Mr Trump last week announced he was pulling funding from the organisation.

“So much death has been caused by their mistakes,” he said at a press conference on Tuesday (local time).

The US president has ordered a review after accusing the WHO of “severely mismanaging and covering up” the spread of COVID-19.

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