At the start of the meeting on Monday, the WHO warned of a “very high” global risk of the omicron variant. Tedros said it showed why the world needed a new agreement against pandemics and called for a “legally binding” agreement. Britain and European Union states have also campaigned for a deal. Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week called for “reliable funding” for the WHO and higher contributions from its member states, alluding to the EU`s position to back a binding deal. The decision was taken by WHO`s 194 Member States gathered in Geneva for the second special session of the World Health Assembly, describing what senior WHO officials described as a turning point in international public health. Low- and middle-income countries have focused on the need to address the global inequality in vaccines, tests and other health resources that they say are prolonging the pandemic. About 80% of the world`s Covid-19 vaccines have gone to rich G20 countries, and only 0.6% have reached low-income countries, according to the WHO.3 World Health Organization countries agreed on December 1 to start negotiations on an international agreement on how countries should prevent, prepare for and respond to pandemics. “There is an agreement on a text that is very satisfactory for us,” a European diplomat said. “It also gives a way out for Americans, who are clearly connected.” Article 19 of the WHO Constitution gives the World Health Assembly the power to adopt conventions or agreements on any matter within the competence of WHO. The only instrument created to date under Article 19 is the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which has made a significant and rapid contribution to the protection of people from tobacco since its entry into force in 2005.
The Health Assembly met in special session, the second since the creation of WHO in 1948, and adopted a single resolution entitled “The world together”. The Assembly`s decision establishes an intergovernmental negotiating group to develop and negotiate a WHO convention, convention or other international instrument for the prevention, preparedness and management of pandemics for adoption under article 19 of the WHO Constitution or other provisions of the Constitution that the NBI deems appropriate. But some experts said the proposal was not ambitious enough. “I think we need a `public health contract` that is broader and covers all major diseases,” said Srividhya Ragavan, a global health expert at Texas A&M University School of Law, adding that a “pandemic contract” would be a “self-centered approach” for the West. The diplomatic breakthrough came amid growing international concern about the Omicron coronavrius variant, which was first discovered in South Africa this month and has continued to spread around the world. Read more How the omicron variant destabilized the world in just one week: A visual timeline The agreement to work on a plan to deal with future global pandemics comes at a time when countries around the world continue to fight the current epidemic. The new highly transmissible strain of omicron, recently described by the WHO as a “worrying variant”, has led to new public health restrictions and travel bans as governments work to curb its spread. Each agreement is likely to rely heavily on the International Health Regulations (IHR), a legal framework revised in 2005 to define countries` obligations in the event of cross-border threats to public health.5 It should focus on meeting key IHR commitments that have not been met, said David Heymann, professor of infection epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “This decision to establish a negotiating group for a future agreement on the pandemic may only be the end of the beginning, but the demonstrated flexibility and breadth of support bodes well for the important efforts to come,” Simon Manley, Britain`s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said in a statement. In addition to a consensus among nearly 200 countries, each agreement requires funding. And to be effective in practice, it will require a strong international legal framework that rewards good public health behavior and deters bad behavior through sanctions, said Andrés Constantin, associate professor of law at the O`Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. The agreement is “a reason for celebration and a reason for hope that we will need,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“Let`s say that in decades where each of us is nothing more than photos and memories, we have left the world in a healthier, safer and fairer place than we found.” Member States have agreed on a timetable that could lead to a legally binding treaty addressing global inequalities and political divisions that have facilitated the spread of Covid-19 and the associated deaths of more than 5.2 million people. It could require states to share vaccines and medical devices, as well as information on emerging health threats, in the event of a future pandemic.1 In a consensual decision to protect the world from future crises caused by infectious diseases, the World Health Assembly today agreed to launch a global process to draft and negotiate a convention. Agreement or other international instrument under the Constitution of the World Health Organization to strengthen the prevention, preparedness and management of pandemics. In 2019, WHO issued: 1,980 consulting contracts with individual consultants for a total value of $80,583,599.00; 105 AFW with individual contractors for a total value of $4,061,425.54; 33 Letters of Understanding (NG) with individual contractors with a total value of $2,012,284.35; and 81 general external services with individual contractors for a total value of $2,506,995.24. Less than a week after the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus was reported to the World Health Organization, world leaders agreed Wednesday to begin negotiations to create an international agreement to prevent and manage future pandemics — which some have dubbed the “Pandemic Treaty.” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said the World Health Assembly`s decision was historic. Essential to its mission and represented a unique opportunity to strengthen the global health architecture to protect and promote the well-being of all. The special session was convened after several WHO members in May called for an international legal framework to ensure that countries respond better to future health crises than to COVID-19.2 “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the many shortcomings in the global system for protecting people from pandemics: the most vulnerable people who do without vaccines; health workers who do not have the necessary equipment to carry out their rescue work; and `me-first` approaches that hinder the global solidarity needed to address a global threat,” said Dr Tedros. The draft resolution, which was drafted during negotiations over the weekend, will be submitted to health ministers for adoption at the WHO`s three-day special assembly, which begins on Monday, they said.
The special session of the World Health Assembly, which was only the second ever held by WHO`s governing body, promised by consensus to start work on an agreement after three days of talks to applause. While the European Union and at least 70 other countries are pushing for a legally binding treaty, Brazil, the United States and others want a softer deal. The World Health Assembly, WHO`s decision-making body, voted on Wednesday to develop an “international convention, agreement or other instrument” to prevent, prepare for and respond to future pandemics. The United States is committed to working with Member States to advance the recent recommendations of the Preparedness and Response Task Force. This includes developing a new WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument and reaching agreements to improve the effectiveness and agility of international health regulations, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday. Of course, this is in the interest of all of us.â”There are still differences of opinion on what a new agreement could or should contain. But you have proven to each other and to the world that differences can be overcome and that commonalities can be found,” he added. In particular, it should develop the capacity of all countries to independently identify new health threats, react quickly and share information in real time.
“Any treaty should emphasize the need to build core capacities and not to put in place global mechanisms that exclude country capacity building – one example is a global Covid-19 surveillance system,” Heymann said. “I welcome today`s decision to establish an intergovernmental negotiating group to develop and negotiate a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument for the prevention, preparedness and control of pandemics,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Britain, along with the EU and about 70 other countries, had been pushing for a legally binding treaty. The United States, backed by states like Brazil and India, was reluctant to commit to a binding treaty, diplomats said last week. .