Post-COVID-19 WHO Reform: Ethical Considerations

Public Health Ethics
Volume 14, Issue 2, July 2021


Original Articles
Post-COVID-19 WHO Reform: Ethical Considerations
Thana C de Campos-Rudinsky
Public Health Ethics, Volume 14, Issue 2, July 2021, Pages 134–147,
This study argues against the expansive approach to the WHO reform, according to which to be a better global health leader, WHO should do more, be given more power and financial resources, have more operational capacities, and have more teeth by introducing more coercive monitoring and compliance mechanisms to its IHR. The expansive approach is a political problem, whose root cause lies in ethics: WHO’s political overambition is grounded on WHO’s lack of conceptual clarity on what good leadership means and what health (as a human right) means. This study presents this ethical analysis by putting forth an alternative: the humble approach to the WHO reform. It argues that to be a better leader, WHO should do much less and have a much narrower mandate. More specifically, WHO should focus exclusively on coordination efforts, by ensuring truthful, evidence-based, consistent, and timely shared communications regarding PHEIC among WHO member-states and other global health stakeholders, if the organization desires to be a real global health leader whose authority the international community respects and whose guidance people trust.