MIAMI & LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Working Group on Strengthening WHO Preparedness for and Response to Health Emergencies has issued a report that outlines key issues recommended for discussion at the upcoming World Health Assembly Special Session at the end of November. The Panel for a Global Public Health Convention (GPHC) strongly agrees with these recommendations.
The Report finds that most countries understand that the status quo on global public health emergencies is unacceptable. It also recommends that a path forward will require both strengthening the International Health Regulations and simultaneously developing a new international agreement.
While we already have a treaty—the International Health Regulations (IHR)—governments have not complied with this treaty. These Regulations are insufficient for a pandemic of the scope of COVID-19 because they are not adequate to manage rapidly escalating infectious diseases outbreaks and pandemics. In addition, scientists have established that treaties such as the IHR that lack accountability mechanisms are not effective. A treaty must grant authority to one or more agencies to coordinate pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response globally, and include accountability mechanisms.
We cannot understate the fact that to be effective, a proposed treaty must be negotiated, signed, and overseen by heads of state. This is because (1) pandemics affect every facet of society: health, jobs, education, trade, international relations, development, economic growth, and security, and (2) because an international agreement must include verification and compliance mechanisms to which only heads of state can agree.
Accountability, including verification and compliance, must be established at arm’s length from WHO, which must maintain an amicable relationship with countries. WHO is needed to establish the standards for preparedness and response. An independent agency is needed to coordinate and provide oversight to the bodies responsible for verification, compliance and financing.
Compliance will require a system of financial incentives for low- and middle-income countries. Low- and many middle-income countries require financial support to properly prepare and respond to outbreaks and pandemics, and to avoid economic repercussions when reporting an outbreak.
There is a gaping hole in the global governance and oversight of pandemics. The pandemic has cost 5 million lives, trillions of dollars, and massive social disruption. Yet, this still may prove to be insufficient warning for global leaders and politicians to take decisive action on a pandemic prevention treaty. It is imperative that government actors, civil society, and the public apply political pressure to demand a global treaty with teeth.
For more information on the Panel’s position on its Case for a Pandemic Treaty, click here.
Who We Are:
The Panel for a Global Public Health Convention (GPHC) represents an independent coalition of global leaders working to strengthen the world’s ability to prevent, prepare, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks before they become widespread pandemics. It was founded in 2020 in response to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic with the aim of bridging critical gaps in the global public health architecture and policy frameworks by promulgating a new global public health treaty or convention to ensure another pandemic does not happen again. The Panel is chaired by Dame Barbara Stocking, former President of Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge, former CEO of Oxfam GB. The Panel consists of global leaders with expertise in public health, finance, law, parliamentary, national and international governance, and pandemics.
For more information about who we are, click here.