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WHO countries begin negotiations on global pandemic preparedness agreement

The discussions will continue over the next year until a final draft is made in 2024

World Health Organization

Countries of the World Health Organization (WHO) have started negotiations on a draft global agreement aimed at protecting nations and communities from future pandemic emergencies.

The discussions took place during the week-long fourth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), which includes WHO’s 194 countries, and are expected to continue over the next year.

Roland Driece, co-chair of the INB Bureau, from the Netherlands, said the start of discussions "sends a clear signal that countries of the world want to work together for a safer, healthier future where we are better prepared for, and able to prevent future pandemic threats, and respond to them effectively and equitably”.

In accordance with the process set out by governments at a special session of the World Health Assembly in late 2021, a final draft agreement will aim to be produced by the 77th World Health Assembly in 2024.

Precious Matsoso, fellow INB bureau co-chair, from South Africa, said: “The efforts this week, by countries from around the world, was a critical step in ensuring we do not repeat the mistakes of the COVID-19 pandemic response, including in sharing life-saving vaccines, provision of information and development of local capacities.

“That we have been able to move forward so decisively is testimony to the global consensus that exists on the need to work together and to strengthen WHO’s and the international community’s ability to protect the world from pandemic threats.”

WHO also outlined that, in addition to the agreement, governments are discussing more than 300 amendments to the 2005 International Health Regulations to protect against communicable diseases and ensuring greater equity in the global response to public health emergencies.

WHO has had a strong focus on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response (PPR) since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, including establishing a new financial intermediary fund to strengthen PPR capabilities in low- and middle-income countries.

It also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Association of National Public Health Institutes in October 2022 aimed at establishing or strengthening the role of national institutes in emergency preparedness and response.

The organisations maintain that the strengthened alliance is ‘critical’ in ensuring that global and regional structures are designed to support national and local capacities and ‘provide the right avenues for collaboration and coordination’.

Article by
Emily Kimber

6th March 2023

From: Healthcare



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