WHO moves forward on pandemic agreement

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

The World Health Assembly (WHA) today acknowledged the significant progress made by Member States over the past two years in developing a pandemic agreement and strengthening the International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005).

Governments convened at the Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly in Geneva are working to advance these initiatives, aiming to enhance global preparedness and response to future pandemics.

During the session, WHA delegates agreed to continue their efforts until the Assembly concludes on June 1.

Their primary goals are to finalize the amendments to the IHR (2005) and to agree on the timing, format, and process for concluding the pandemic agreement.

The WHA first addressed agenda item 13.4, focusing on the draft pandemic agreement. Delegates commended the extensive work of the Member State-led Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) and the Bureau steering the negotiations since the process began in December 2021.

The pandemic accord aims to prevent a repeat of the global health, economic, and social impacts experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Member States reiterated that the world needs a pandemic agreement built on the principles of equity, sovereignty, and prevention, preparedness, and response, and to ensure future generations are safeguarded from the threat of inevitable future pandemics,” the WHA noted.

Additionally, the WHA considered agenda item 13.3, which detailed the efforts to amend the International Health Regulations (2005). These amendments are intended to incorporate lessons learned from the global response to COVID-19, thereby strengthening global health security.

“Updated and stronger International Health Regulations are essential for ensuring global health security,” stressed the WHA delegates.

The ongoing discussions and negotiations at the WHA underscore the collective commitment of Member States to enhance international cooperation and build robust frameworks to tackle future health crises effectively.

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