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Lords to question leading academics on the WHO response to COVID-19

The House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee will this Friday quiz experts on the role of the World Health Organisation (WHO), in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These back-to-back evidence sessions will explore the coordination of the WHO response to COVID-19, the main priorities of the WHO, pressures from the US and China, and the lessons learnt from the management of previous disease outbreaks.
These sessions will also include questions over the significance of the WHO's role and the potential impact that the FCO – DfID merger could have on the UK's ability to support the tackling of global health challenges.
Giving evidence will be:

  • Prof. Sophie Harman, Professor of International Politics, Queen Mary University of London
  • Dr Brian McCloskey CBE, Senior Consulting Fellow, Global Health Programme, Chatham House


  • Prof. Devi Sridhar, Chair, Global Public Health, University of Edinburgh
  • Prof. David Heymann CBE, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Distinguished Fellow, Global Health Programme, Chatham House
  • OB Sisay OBE, Senior COVID-19 Adviser, Tony Blair Institute

Topics these sessions will be likely to cover include:

  • Is the way the WHO is structured, and the powers at its disposal, adequate to deliver its mandate, including coordinating the response to the current COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Does the WHO have the right priorities? How effectively does it deliver its very broad mission?
  • Is there a case for greater coordination between the WHO and the World Organisation for Animal Health, given that COVID-19, HIV and Sars are all thought to have originated in animals?
  • What were the key lessons learned by the WHO from previous infectious disease outbreaks and were they effectively implemented?
  • Do you believe the WHO is transparent enough as an organisation and how can this be improved?
  • Is the current WHO funding model sustainable and what are the challenges brought by this model?
  • How effectively does the WHO manage geopolitical pressures?
  • What will be the impact of the US's suspension of its contributions, and its planned departure from the WHO next year?
  • How significant a role does the UK play in the WHO?

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