Covid-19: WHO really calls the shots?

How much do we really know about the World Health Organization – the agency that Covid-19 has thrust into the spotlight?

Its job is to promote universal health care, set standards and coordinate the world's response to health emergencies. When a new coronavirus appeared in late 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was thrust into the spotlight, and used - by some - as a scapegoat for the failure to contain Covid-19. The Geneva-based agency will again be the focus of media attention in late May when its decision-making body, the World Health Assembly, meets. High on the agenda will be proposals to improve emergency preparedness and ensure equitable access to vaccines. But how much do we really know about the WHO? Who runs it, and how is its work paid for? What has it achieved since it was founded in 1948, and what has it been able – or unable - to do to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic?

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