WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Equity, accountability, prevention, and strengthened governance must be at the forefront of a future Pandemic Preparedness Accord, according to a panel of speakers who gathered last week in Washington D.C. at the Consortium of Universities for Global Health conference to discuss the ongoing international negotiations. The session was organized by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation Institute for Global Public Health in collaboration with the University of Miami.
With the World Health Assembly scheduled to take place in Geneva next month, where the discussion on the new Accord is at the top of the agenda, satellite session speakers reiterated the need for a new Public Health Convention or Accord to ensure the world doesn’t repeat the deadly mistakes of COVID-19.
“It is our firm belief that to succeed, a new Pandemic Prevention and Response Accord must be grounded in principles of equity, accountability, and transparency,” said Dr. Jorge Saavedra, Executive Director of the AHF Global Public Health Institute at the University of Miami. “We must treat global public health as a global good that requires international coordination and cooperation – like air traffic control. Collective pandemic preparedness cannot be guaranteed until countries commit to a shared and mutually beneficial set of principles.”
The panel speakers included Dr. Patricia Garcia, Former Minister of Health of Peru, Dr. Ricardo Leite, President and Founder of UNITE Global Parliamentarian Network to End Infectious Diseases and Member of Parliament of Portugal, and Dr. Saavedra. The session was moderated by the Honorable Ambassador Akua Sena Dansua from Ghana, and the closing remarks were delivered by Dr. Jose Szapocznik, Director of the Public Health Policy Lab and Professor of Public Health Science at the University of Miami.
Panelists called for equity to be centered on prevention, for the proposed Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing System (PABS) to be legally binding to ensure countries receive the benefits of pathogen sharing, and for countries that share data to be protected from consequences. Every speaker enthusiastically supported the need for an accountability mechanism to monitor and verify compliance with a pandemic agreement and provide incentives to low- and middle-income countries, with some level of country contribution commensurate with each country’s abilities and resources.
They called for health systems to be reshaped to be preventive rather than reactive. Panelists also emphasized the need to invest in prevention as the $10 billion required to address the gaps in pandemic prevention and preparedness is incomparable to the trillions lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. Panelists discussed how the WHO was limited in its capacity to effectively coordinate pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. To address these gaps in global health governance, the group suggested a High-Level Council be formed and comprised of heads of state with guidance from civil society.
About AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)
AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.7 million people in 45 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare.