Unequal discourses: Problems of the current model of world health development

Jing Mao Ho*, Yao-Tai LI, Katherine Whitworth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed institutional deficiencies in world health development. This viewpoint paper examines the allegations about the partiality and political bias of the World Health Organization's (WHO) response to world health emergencies. We draw on quantitative and qualitative analysis of the WHO's Director-General's speeches pertaining to the COVID-19 and EVD outbreaks. We find that the WHO's discourse on COVID-19 praised the Chinese government's role in the containment. By contrast, the WHO's discourse on the African countries fighting to contain Ebola centered on the unpreparedness of these countries. We argue that the WHO's unbalanced emphasis on different practices and “traits” of member states paints a partial picture of global health emergencies, thus it fails to uphold its founding principles of egalitarianism and impartiality. Finally, we put forward suggestions about a more equal and fairer model of world health development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105176
Number of pages5
JournalWorld Development
Early online date9 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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