WHO Member States agree to resume negotiations aimed at finalizing the world’s first pandemic agreement

WHO Member States agreed to resume negotiations aimed at finalizing a pandemic agreement during 29 April to 10 May. The decision came at today’s end of two weeks of intensive country-led discussions on critical subjects aimed at making all countries of the world better prepared for, and able to effectively and equitably respond to, future pandemics.

This ninth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB9) started on 18 March and ended today. Government negotiatiors discussed all articles from the draft agreement, including adquate financing for pandemic preparedness, equitable access to medical countermeasures needed during pandemics and health workforce strengthening.

“Our Member States are fully aware of how important the pandemic agreement is for protecting future generations from the suffering we endured through the COVID-19 pandemic,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “I thank them for their clear commitment to finding common ground and finalizing this historic agreement in time for the World Health Assembly.”

Next month’s resumption of INB9 will be a critical milestone ahead of the Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly, starting 27 May 2024, at which Member States are scheduled to consider the proposed text of the world’s first pandemic agreement for adoption.

Dr Precious Matsoso, Co-Chair of the INB Bureau, said: “There is clear recognition from governments that the goal of a pandemic agreement is to prepare the world for preventing and responding to future pandemics, built on consensus, solidarity and equity. These goals must remain our North Star as we move toward the finalization of this historic, pressing commitment for the world. We know that if we fail, we will be failing humanity, including all those who suffered from COVID-19, and those at risk of future pandemics.”

Fellow INB Bureau Co-Chair, Mr Roland Driece, said: “Governments said clearly we cannot fail to reach an agreement at the next World Health Assembly to make the world healthier, fairer and safer from pandemics. We are at the finishing line and we are committed to maximizing the remaining negotiations to reach the result the entire world needs.”

In December 2021, the World Health Assembly met in a Special Session, the second-ever since WHO’s founding in 1948, and decided to establish the INB to draft and negotiate a WHO convention, agreement, or other international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. The process has involved participation of other United Nations system bodies, non-state actors, other relevant stakeholders, and the public.

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