JAKARTA - Efforts to strengthen global health security in a future health crisis will only succeed if the role of the World Health Organization is also enhanced, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday.
Speaking via a video link at a G20 meeting of finance leaders in the Indonesian capital, Tedros was responding to proposals to establish a separate global health fund tasked with delivering emergency funds, vaccines and other medical needs.
"It's clear that at the centre of this architecture, the world needs a strong and sustainably financed WHO ... with its unique mandate, unique technical expertise and unique global legitimacy," Tedros told a panel discussion at the meeting.
"Any efforts to enhance the governance, systems, and financing of global health security can only succeed if they also enhance WHO's role," he said.
During the discussion, Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza told the panel the "WHO must remain at the centre of the global health architecture", but added "we need to work even more to create a stronger architecture on health policies."
Indonesia is the host of the G20 this year and the country's health minister last week questioned whether the WHO was best placed to raise capital for a global health fund that would be required to deliver emergency aid, including funds, vaccines and diagnostics, in any future pandemic.
Under the current system, he told foreign journalists countries were "basically on their own" when it came to securing vaccines and vital medical supplies.
The United States, the WHO's top donor, is also pushing for the creation of a separate fund, directly controlled by donors, that would finance prevention and control of health emergencies.
Strengthening the global health architecture is one of Indonesia's priorities under its leadership of the G20, President Joko Widodo and health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin have said.
(Reporting by Stanley Widianto and Kate Lamb; Writing by Kate Lamb; Editing by Ed Davies) ((Kate.Lamb@thomsonreuters.com;))