During the remote Standing committee meeting on 26 of June, the report on « lessons for the future from an effective and rights-based response to the COVID-19 pandemic », prepared by UEL vice-chair Andrej Hunko (Die Linke, Germany) had been adopted almost unanimously.
Both the report’s resolution which contains practical guidelines on how governments should react in pandemics and how the WHO should be reformed in order to fulfil its mandate in a better and more transparent way, as well as its recommendation which calls on the Committee of Ministers to set up a steering committee on health, had been welcomed by Mr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The members of the Standing Committee had the opportunity to exchange views on the pandemic with the Director General of WHO and to hear his answers to some pertinent questions.
Andrej Hunko: « I am pleased with the broad consensus on my report and I’m glad it had been endorsed by some of the other COVID-19 rapporteurs in different committees, as well as by the director of WHO, who confirmed that more parliamentary scrutiny and increased state financing would only benefit the WHO.
It has been shown that when dealing with pandemics, quick and effective responses are crucial to avoid more serious measures. It is therefore crucial that states prepare well for such health crises. It is regrettable that the Council of Europe recommendations on pandemic prevention from 2016 have not been fully implemented.
I welcome the Assembly’s commitment to reform the WHO to make it independent of voluntary and earmarked contributions and democratically accountable. In our conversation with WHO Director General Mr. Ghebreyesus, he confirmed the need for robust public funding. I also share the call for Member States to focus their health systems on need rather than profit and to guarantee free access for all.
Through the report, the Parliamentary Assembly has clearly stated that the principle of proportionality must be respected even in times of crisis. Restrictions on fundamental rights must be justified and reviewed over and over again. If they are no longer proportionate, they must be withdrawn.
I also support the Assembly’s reference to evidence-based decisions and the call for antibody tests on representative samples. We are still operating on too uncertain data basis. Gaps in knowledge should be investigated systematically and in a planned way so that decisions can be based as much as possible on evidence. »