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We are unconvinced that the WHO is the solution

Summary:
Of the varied organisations that have burnished their reputations in the recent pandemic unpleasantness we’d not include the WHO in our list. That capitalism and markets hodgepodge that is the pharmaceutical industry, yes, the development of multiple vaccines in record time does impress. Certain governments have done well at certain parts of their tasks - financing Big Pharma to get on with it being among them. But the WHO, no, not so much. Yet certain of the international Great and the Good have a suggestion for us: Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia, are co-chairs of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and ResponseTheir suggestion is that more of our resources should be put under the control of the

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Of the varied organisations that have burnished their reputations in the recent pandemic unpleasantness we’d not include the WHO in our list. That capitalism and markets hodgepodge that is the pharmaceutical industry, yes, the development of multiple vaccines in record time does impress. Certain governments have done well at certain parts of their tasks - financing Big Pharma to get on with it being among them. But the WHO, no, not so much.

Yet certain of the international Great and the Good have a suggestion for us:

Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia, are co-chairs of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response

Their suggestion is that more of our resources should be put under the control of the international Great and the Good:

The WHO must be strengthened and given more financial independence based on fully unearmarked resources and increased member state fees. Among other WHO reforms, the position of the director general should be restricted to a single seven-year term.

More funding is required. A new international pandemic financing facility would mobilise up to $10bn (£7bn) each year for preparedness, with the ability to disburse $50–$100bn at short notice in the event of a pandemic declaration.

Many will offer as a solution - regardless of the problem - that more cash should be sent to people like us. Given recent performance at the WHO this doesn’t sound like all that good an idea. We remain to be convinced that posting more money to incompetence is the way to improve the world.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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