Viewpoint: Secret Vote on WHO Bodes Ill for Future of Global Health
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
With the future of global health more uncertain than it has been in more than a decade, the first hats have been tossed into the election ring for top leadership at the World Health Organization. It is a dire time for WHO, which has seen its financial and political support erode steadily for the last decade, its credibility suffering mightily over its slow and sloppy response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
Everybody is talking about how best to reform the WHO, arguably the best vehicle for coordinating the ever-changing global health agenda. But a new election process using secret ballots for appointing the next director-general is hardly a promising start.
The director-general (DG) vote will take place at the World Health Assembly in May 2017 in an unprecedented, one-country-one-vote procedure conducted via secret ballots. Some are concerned this new, secretive process is unlikely to produce a leader who can restore the WHO’s position of global leadership, its respect, authority and financing.
How the leader of the World Health Organization is chosen
For the first time since it was founded in 1948, the WHO will select a new DG via a process that gives Niue, population of 1,612, an equal vote with China, population of 1.4 billion – and Lichtenstein, population 33,720, equal voting power with India, population 1.25 billion.
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