W.H.O to draft global legal binding code to shield world from future pandemics
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) member states have taken the first step towards strengthening the global health defense system.
Through the World Health Assembly, the states agreed to kick start the process of developing a global legally binding accord aimed at protecting the world from future infectious diseases and pandemics.
Following the decision, an intergovernmental negotiating body (INB) has been established to draft and negotiate a convention, agreement or other international instrument under the Constitution of the World Health Organization to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.
Speaking on the plans, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the decision by the Assembly was vital in strengthening the global health architecture to protect and promote the well-being of all people adding that the Covid-19 shone light on many flaws in the global health systems
“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,” Dr Tedros said.
The Assembly which met in a Special Session, the second-ever since WHO’s founding in 1948, adopted the decision titled “The World Together”. Article 19 of the WHO Constitution provides the Assembly with the authority to adopt conventions or agreements on any matter within WHO’s competence.
“We have seen inspiring demonstrations of scientific and political collaboration, from the rapid development of vaccines, to today’s commitment by countries to negotiate a global accord that will help to keep future generations safer from the impacts of pandemics.” Dr Tedros added.
The decision by the Assembly comes at a time when the world is still battling with the Covid-19 pandemic and a new variant, Omicron, that threatens the gains made in containing the virus that was first reported two years ago.
Barely a week after the announcement of Omicron, countries including the UK, US and some European governments have reintroduced tough measures, including travel restrictions.
According to the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) the new variant has so far been reported in four countries in the continent including South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Botswana.