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Work To Continue On Proposed Global Pandemic Agreement

Governments of the world have agreed to continue working on a proposed global pandemic agreement, and to further refine the draft, ahead of the Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly that starts 27 May 2024.

According to a World Health Organization (WHO) release, Governments meeting at its Geneva headquarters last week agreed to resume hybrid and in-person discussions over coming weeks to advance work on critical issues.

They include a proposed new global system for pathogen access and benefits sharing, pandemic prevention and One Health; and the financial coordination needed to scale up countries’ capacities to prepare for and respond to pandemics.

“During more than two years of intensive negotiations, WHO’s Member States have shown unwavering commitment to forging a generational agreement to protect the world from a repeat of the horrors caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

“I welcome the determination that all countries have shown to continue their work and fulfill the mission on which they embarked,” the WHO release quoted him saying.

Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) Bureau Co-Chair Dr Precious Matsoso, from South Africa, said progress had been made during the latest round of discussions on a wide range of issues contained in the draft agreement.

“We are witnessing history play out before our eyes during this process, with the coming together of all countries to decide a binding pact to protect all citizens of the world,” said Ms Matsoso.

“This is not a simple exercise. This is the first ever process to develop a proposed agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. Getting this done means getting it right, and the INB Bureau is committed to help finalize a meaningful, lasting agreement.”

In March 2021, heads of state and government from two dozen countries issued a statement of commitment calling for global collaboration to prepare for, prevent and respond to pandemics.

In December 2021, WHO Member States decided to launch a global process to draft and negotiate a legally binding convention, agreement or other international instrument to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response after the crisis created by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

However, not everyone is happy with the proposed agreement obligating countries to fight future pandemics in a united way.

Critics claim the WHO is trying to convince national leaders to sign away their nations’ sovereignty, a claim the organization has denied.

Nations are expected to either accept or reject the terms of the pandemic treaty at the WHO’s World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, later this month.

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