WHO Member States To Resume Negotiations For World’s 1st Pandemic Agreement

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It was agreed by WHO Member States to resume negotiations for finalising a pandemic agreement from April 29 to May 10. This decision followed two weeks of intense discussions led by countries, focusing on crucial topics to enhance global preparedness and equitable response to future pandemics.

The ninth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB9), which commenced on March 18, 2024, concluded today. Government representatives deliberated on all articles of the draft agreement, covering aspects such as sufficient funding for pandemic readiness, fair access to necessary medical measures during pandemics, and bolstering the healthcare workforce.

WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus remarked, “Our Member States recognise the pivotal role of the pandemic agreement in safeguarding future generations from the hardships endured during the COVID-19 crisis. I commend their unwavering dedication to reaching a consensus and finalising this landmark agreement ahead of the World Health Assembly.”

The upcoming resumption of INB9 in the following month will serve as a crucial step before the 77th World Health Assembly, commencing on May 27, 2024. During this assembly, Member States are expected to review the proposed text of the world’s inaugural pandemic agreement for adoption.

Co-chair of the INB Bureau, Dr. Precious Matsoso emphasised, “Governments acknowledge the necessity of a pandemic agreement to prepare the world for preventing and responding to future pandemics, fostering consensus, solidarity, and equity. These objectives must guide us as we progress towards finalising this historic and urgent commitment.”

Co-chair of the INB Bureau, Mr. Roland Driece asserted, “Governments have made it clear that failure to reach an agreement at the upcoming World Health Assembly is not an option in our pursuit to create a healthier, fairer, and safer world against pandemics. We are nearing the finish line and remain dedicated to maximising our efforts in negotiations to achieve the outcome that the global community urgently requires.”

In December 2021, the World Health Assembly convened a Special Session, only the second in WHO’s history since its establishment in 1948. It resolved to establish the INB to draft and negotiate a WHO convention, agreement, or similar international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. The process has involved engagement from various United Nations bodies, non-state actors, relevant stakeholders and the public.

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