May 30, 2024

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Governments agree to continue their steady progress on proposed pandemic agreement ahead of the World Health Assembly

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

Governments meeting at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva agreed to resume hybrid and in-person discussions over coming weeks to advance work on critical issues, including around a proposed new global system for pathogen access and benefits sharing (i.e. life-saving vaccines, treatments and diagnostics); 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 Member State-led Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) was established over two years ago to take this effort forward. The Bureau of the INB, which is guiding the process, will submit its outcome for consideration at the World Health Assembly.

INB Bureau Co-Chair Dr Precious Matsoso, from South Africa, said progress had been made during this 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.”

Fellow INB Bureau Co-Chair, Mr Roland Driece, from the Netherlands, said when countries launched the process two years ago to develop a pandemic agreement, they did so knowing they had set an ambitious timeline to reach an ambitious goal.

“This unprecedented effort by all WHO Member States was launched in response to an unprecedented global emergency – the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mr Driece. “These sovereign states did so recognizing that great collaboration and coordination were needed in the face of pandemics. While negotiations have been challenging at times, all countries agree that the world must be better prepared for the next pandemic. It is not a matter of if a pandemic will happen again; it is a matter of when. We cannot afford to miss this historic opportunity to make the world safer from the next pandemic threat.”

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.

 

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