Ginebra (AFP) “Never again!” After millions of deaths and immeasurable economic losses, the international community is embarking on a long and difficult process to try to give the WHO the means to better fight against the next pandemic.
“All of this will happen again unless you nations of the world come together to say with one voice: never again! », Declared the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at the start of the exceptional meeting of the World Health Assembly, WHO’s supreme decision-making body, which brings together 194 members.
“The time has come to overcome this pandemic and leave a legacy for the generations to come after us,” said Tedros.
WHO members agreed on Sunday to launch negotiations to create an international instrument to better prevent and combat pandemics. During this meeting, which will last three days, the members of WHO must officially confirm this draft agreement.
This proposal for a binding international instrument, supported by the head of the WHO, was presented at the end of March to a forum signed by the leaders of the countries of the five continents. Among them were French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and South African Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa, Indonesian Joko Widodo and Chilean Sebastin Piera.
“Today I hope that we are going to make history. The situation of the world demands it” declared Monday during the meeting the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, one of the sponsors of the project.
“We want to be better prepared, to have sufficient medical countermeasures which must be distributed equitably around the world (…)”, declared the French Minister of Health, Olivier Vran.
During the debates, several leaders, including Chancellor Merkel, defended the principle of a “binding international treaty”. This is the case of the American Secretary of Health, Xavier Becerra, who gave his country’s support to “the development of a WHO convention or another type of international instrument”.
A binding treaty
It is in a context of global panic that this meeting takes place, organized in a hybrid format, a few days after the discovery of the new micron variant of the coronavirus.
Several uncertainties remain about the dangerousness and transmissibility of the variant, with multiple mutations, but scientists fear that it is extremely contagious and partly bypasses the immune system.
“The micron urgency reminds us that covid is not over,” says Tedros, alluding to the new variant, which “shows why the world needs a new deal”.
The management of covid-19 has shown the limits of what the WHO has the right and the means to do. In the absence of sharing of data, samples and vaccines, Tedros declares: “In the end, the pandemic is a crisis of solidarity” and of the capacity to “share”. As such, he calls for a strengthening of the WHO in front of the States.
“The current crisis shows how essential it is to have a strong, efficient and universal World Health Organization, committed over the long term,” said Swiss Minister of Health Alain Berset.
The draft agreement on which WHO members reached informal consensus provides for the creation of “an intergovernmental body” to draft and negotiate “a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on prevention, preparedness and response to pandemics “.
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