WHO Member States to Share Historic IHR, Pandemic Agreement Outcomes at World Health Assembly

After intensive negotiations, WHO Member States have concluded discussions aimed at enhancing global readiness for future pandemics and outbreaks following the COVID-19 crisis. They have agreed to present the outcomes of their efforts for deliberation at the upcoming World Health Assembly, commencing Monday.

These negotiations involved two simultaneous tracks: revising the International Health Regulations (2005) and crafting a groundbreaking pandemic agreement, convention, or similar legal framework.

During the Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly, scheduled from May 27 to June 1, delegates will assess the results of both initiatives and chart the next steps.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, acknowledged the immense global effort over the past two years to combat COVID-19, which claimed at least 7 million lives. He emphasized the imperative of a pandemic agreement to enhance preparedness for future crises, acknowledging significant progress in negotiations while highlighting remaining challenges.

The Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), comprising representatives from all 194 WHO Member States, concluded its ninth meeting today. While initial agreements were reached on several aspects of the draft pandemic agreement, some areas saw divergence of opinions.

The INB Bureau, overseeing the process, will present a comprehensive report outlining the progress and outcomes achieved thus far, along with proposed next steps for concluding the agreement.

Mr. Roland Driece, co-Chair of the INB Bureau, affirmed Member States’ commitment to finalizing the pandemic agreement, with the World Health Assembly playing a pivotal role in this endeavor.

Echoing this sentiment, Ms. Precious Matsoso, co-Chair of the INB Bureau, stressed the importance of sustained global cooperation in preparing for and responding to future pandemics.

Additionally, the Working Group on International Health Regulations (WGIHR) will present its proposed amendments to the World Health Assembly for consideration. These amendments aim to update the IHR, originally adopted in 1969 and last revised in 2005, to better address contemporary public health challenges.

The conclusion of the resumed session of the WGIHR marks a significant milestone in this process, with continued efforts focused on strengthening global health security and resilience.

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