World Health Assembly agrees to draft global pact on pandemics

Inter-govt negotiating body to be formed; first meeting by March 1

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 1

In a consensus decision aimed at protecting the world from future infectious diseases, the World Health Assembly (WHA) on Wednesday agreed to kick-start a global process to draft and negotiate a convention, an agreement or other international instrument under the Constitution of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

The decision came as the new Omicron variant spread to more than 14 countries, upending global response to the pandemic and leading to tighter border controls. As of Monday, there have been 261,435,768 confirmed cases of Covid worldwide, including 5,207,634 deaths.

Historic decision

The decision is historic and represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to strengthen the global health architecture against pandemics.  —Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, said WHA’s decision was historic and represented a once-in-a-generation opportunity to strengthen the global health architecture against pandemics.

“Covid has shone a light on the many flaws in the global system to protect people from pandemics: the most vulnerable people going without vaccines, health workers without needed equipment to perform their life-saving work, and ‘me-first’ approaches that stymie the global solidarity needed to deal with a global threat,” said the WHO chief.

The Health Assembly met in a special session, the second-ever since World Health Organisation’s founding in 1948, and adopted a sole decision titled “The World Together.”

As per today’s decision, the INB will hold its first meeting by March 1, 2022, to agree on ways of working and timelines. The second meeting will be convened by August 1, 2022, to discuss progress on a working draft.

It will hold public hearings, deliver a progress report to the 76th World Health Assembly in 2023 and submit its outcome for consideration by the 77th World Health Assembly in 2024.

Tribune Shorts


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