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Coronavirus

WHO Considers Ways to Strengthen Urgent Response

GENEVA — French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are among those rallying around efforts to strengthen the World Health Organization and the fight against pandemics as the U.N. agency opened its annual assembly with a draft resolution in the works that acknowledges missteps in the response to COVID-19.

The European Union and Vanuatu are behind the resolution that would create a working group on strengthening WHO’s readiness and response to health emergencies.

“We have to have institutions that are up to the task, that meet our ambitions,” Macron said by video during the mostly virtual meeting. WHO, he said, must be “robust” and “flexible” in times of emergency and crisis. “And it must be completely transparent to make sure that people trust the organization.”

Merkel threw her backing behind the idea of a “global health threat council” and said leaders should provide WHO with “lasting financial and personal support.”

The resolution would set up a six-person working group to report to the assembly next year. The text acknowledges “serious shortcomings” in the world’s ability to prepare, prevent, detect and respond to health emergencies.

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