WHO commits to a new agreement to face pandemics

WHO commits to a new agreement to face pandemics

Following pressure from dozens of civil society organizations worldwide, including AHF through its VaccinateOurWorld.org campaign, the country members of the World Health Assembly (WHA) agreed to start negotiating a new global agreement on how to prepare and respond to future pandemics. This December 1, the decision was unanimously adopted at the WHA by 194 state members.

In an earlier statement, AHF President Michael Weinstein said that the current crisis must serve as the impetus for redesign the entire architecture of global public health so that the world is better prepared to respond to pandemics. “This transformation must be based on three fundamental principles: transparency, accountability and cooperation,” he explained.

Specific proposals on how the new global public health framework should be designed are presented in a Lancet Public Health paper titled “A global public health convention for the 21st century”, which has been co-authored by AHF.

The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, described the decision as “cause for celebration and cause for hope, which we will need.”

While Dr Tedros cautioned that “there are still differences of opinion on what a new agreement could or should contain”, delegates had “shown each other and the world that differences can be overcome and points can be found in common”.

What comes next:

  • WHO will convene the first meeting of the intergovernmental negotiating body (INB) before March 1, 2022.
  • The second meeting of the INB will take place by ​​August 2022 where a working draft of the agreement will be presented
  • Debate on the draft agreement will take place during the WHA in May 2023
  • Adoption of the agreement is tentatively projected for the WHA in 2024.

However, other issues will also affect the negotiations process. These include the working group on sustainable finance for WHO, a proposal for a permanent pandemic committee of the WHO executive board, and the call to strengthen both WHO and the International Health Regulations (IHR) before the next World Health Assembly. 

This new agreement should serve as the foundation for an equitable and responsive global health architecture that is capable of rapidly delivering life-saving results during international health emergencies and outbreaks.

“It must have a strong mandate that influences the right decisions to overcome problems such as hoarding and inequalities in access to vaccines and medicines, and the reluctance of some countries to share epidemiological data in a transparent and timely manner for benefit and sanitary safety of all nations “, said Dr. Jorge Saavedra, Executive Director of the AHF Global Public Health Institute at the University of Miami in a statement this past October.

Learn more about the VOW initiative spearheaded by AHF at VaccinateOurWorld.org, and sign on to support it as an individual or as an organization to join us in fighting for access to vaccines around the world.