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Pandemic treaty aims to help poorer nations in future outbreaks

Posted on the 21st August 2023

Pandemic Treaty WHO

While the world was caught unprepared for Covid-19, the race to curb the disease with vaccines and protective equipment firmly favored the richest nations.

In a bid to avoid the same situation in future pandemics, the World Health Organization (WHO) is meeting with world leaders to negotiate a pandemic treaty. 

The global accord aims to avoid the damage caused by Covid-19 and ensure vaccines and medical equipment are distributed equally to all.

The negotiations are being hosted by the WHO, but it is up to member states to reach an agreement. The most recent meetings were held in July and are being followed up with more throughout this year, with the goal of presenting a final draft to the World Health Assembly in May 2024.

However, reaching an agreement could prove tricky, with diverging government interests, reservations on the part of pharmaceutical companies, and lingering anti-WHO sentiment from those who opposed lockdowns, masks, and vaccines during the pandemic.

The draft political declaration includes references to “global solidarity” and expressions of “concern” ranging from Covid-19’s disproportionate impact on low- and middle-income countries and disadvantaged members of society to its impact on health systems and development.

More specifically, it calls for greater access to affordable medicine, including non-branded versions, and for greater support for local and regional production and distribution.

It also calls for the WHO to be given the authority and funding it needs to support countries in minimising the risks of a pandemic.

The aim of the accord is to learn from Covid-19 and ensure that treatments, equipment, and resources to deal with pandemics are available to all countries on a fairer basis.

It would also aim to help prevent future pandemics with improved and more transparent surveillance and early warning of disease outbreaks.

Vaccines for Covid-19 were developed and distributed in record time. However, they took far longer to reach developing countries in significant numbers.

The resource shortages were not just limited to vaccines, as poorer countries struggled to obtain crucial supplies of oxygen for patients in intensive care, personal protective equipment, and testing resources.

Related: Science behind Covid vaccines could fight cancer

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