An online session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) kicks off on Monday in a two-day event, where envoys from 194 member states of the World Health Organisation (WHO) will reportedly call for an inquiry into the international response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
During the WHO's 73rd assembly, participants will specifically discuss how the UN body's members handled the spread of the coronavirus, which has already claimed the lives of at least 300,000 people across the globe.
An international call is expected to be led by the European Union along with a number of countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, and the UK which will in particular focus on what lessons should be learned from the pandemic.
The BBC cited EU spokeswoman Virginie Battu-Henriksson as saying that the WHA inquiry aims to shed more light on a spate of key questions.
"How did this pandemic spread? What is the epidemiology behind it? All this is absolutely crucial for us going forward to avoid another pandemic of this kind”, she noted, adding that right now, it is not the time to deal with "any sort of blame game".
While the WHO will reportedly come under fire over its handling of the COVID-19 crisis, the organisation’s spokeswoman Margaret Harris underlined that "the World Health Assembly is always the time for a lot of scrutiny [of the WHO]".
She pledged, however, that the WHO would remain "laser focused" on efforts to be at the helm of the overall response to and solutions for the coronavirus pandemic.
In this vein, the BBC quoted Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, as saying that "the big challenge with outbreaks is that no country wants to have one" and that "every country wants to deny it's there, and every country wants to play down deaths".
"If the WHO can send in a technical international mission whose job is not to blame or point fingers, but actually identify the origin of an outbreak, and provide best advice to other countries that could be a positive way to prevent outbreaks", Sridhar pointed out.
US, China at Loggerheads Over COVID-19
The WHA gathering comes amid growing tensions between China and the US over COVID-19, in which the WHO seems to have been involved after President Donald Trump halted US funding for the WHO last month. POTUS accused the UN body of grossly mismanaging and covering up the spread of the novel coronavirus in China, allegations that Beijing denies.
The US president also announced a suspension period of 60 to 90 days pending the completion of a probe of WHO and Chinese actions during the onset of the pandemic.
Many American states slammed Trump's decision in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the US Chamber of Commerce asserting that POTUS had compromised the country's interests by ending Washington's funding for the agency.