WHO Urges Countries to Develop Treaty on Pandemic Preparedness and Response

A senior WHO official has emphasised the importance of a worldwide treaty on pandemic preparedness and response, encouraging countries to “seize the moment” and contribute to its development.

On Wednesday, Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the agency’s Emergencies Programme, gave the opening remarks at a UN General Assembly meeting where the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR) informed ambassadors. He addressed on behalf of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization.

One of the primary flaws shown during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Dr Ryan, was a lack of worldwide solidarity and sharing, which included not just pathogen data and epidemiological information, but also resources, technology, and instruments like vaccinations. That is why WHO believes the recommendation for a treaty on pandemic preparedness and response will do the greatest to strengthen both WHO and global health security. He went on to say that any international “structure, framework, or mechanism” must be conceived, owned, and executed as a whole by all countries.

Countries agreed to hold a special session in November to explore creating a WHO convention, accord, or other international instruments on pandemic preparedness and response during the most recent meeting of the World Health Assembly, WHO’s decision-making body, held in May.

Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark co-chaired the independent panel, which Dr Ryan opened his remarks by thanking.

The panel was established by the World Health Organization in July 2020 to look into the global reaction to the COVID-19 epidemic. Its report, released in May, called for immediate action to address the crisis, as well as expanded authority for WHO to respond more promptly to future risks.

The UN General Assembly should adopt a political declaration on improving the international system, and richer countries should deliver one billion vaccine doses to low- and middle-income countries by September, according to the research.

Ms Johnson Sirleaf addressed an informal meeting of the General Assembly held by President Volkan Bozkir that COVID-19 is a continuing calamity that the panel feels should have been avoided. The General Assembly has a critical role to play in supporting important reforms and improving the international infrastructure so that the next virus with pandemic potential may be identified and responded to more rapidly.

The pandemic is a social, economic, political, and peace and security catastrophe as well as a health crisis. Therefore the General Assembly has a critical role in ensuring that the international system is coordinated and empowered to recognize and respond to future pandemic diseases. 

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