Progress on Proposed Pandemic Agreement Ahead of World Health Assembly

Today, governments worldwide have reaffirmed their commitment to advancing a proposed pandemic agreement, aiming to refine the draft in preparation for the Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly commencing on May 27, 2024.

At the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, government representatives have agreed to resume hybrid and in-person discussions in the upcoming weeks. These discussions will focus on crucial aspects, including establishing a new global system for pathogen access and benefit sharing, enhancing pandemic prevention and One Health initiatives, and coordinating financial mechanisms to bolster countries’ capacities for pandemic preparedness and response.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, expressed appreciation for the enduring dedication exhibited by Member States throughout more than two years of negotiations. He underscored the shared commitment to crafting a transformative agreement aimed at safeguarding against future pandemics, echoing the resilience demonstrated by nations in pursuing this collective mission.

The Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), led by Member States, has been driving this initiative forward for over two years. The INB Bureau, responsible for steering the process, will present its outcomes for deliberation at the World Health Assembly.

Dr. Precious Matsoso, Co-Chair of the INB Bureau from South Africa, noted progress made during the recent round of discussions on various issues outlined in the draft agreement. She emphasized the historic significance of this collaborative effort, recognizing it as the first-ever attempt to formulate a binding pact on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.

Fellow INB Bureau Co-Chair, Mr. Roland Driece, representing the Netherlands, highlighted the ambitious nature of the endeavor initiated by countries two years ago in response to the unprecedented global emergency posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. He emphasized the imperative for enhanced collaboration and coordination to better equip the world for future pandemic threats, underscoring the inevitability of another pandemic occurrence.

The momentum for global collaboration to confront pandemics has been building steadily. In March 2021, heads of state and government from numerous countries issued a statement pledging to work collectively to prepare for, prevent, and respond to pandemics. Subsequently, in December 2021, WHO Member States resolved to initiate a global process aimed at drafting and negotiating a legally binding convention, agreement, or international instrument to reinforce pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response efforts.

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