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Fiocruz and USP release note on risks of delay in pandemic agreement for the WHA


Ana Paula Blower (Fiocruz News Agency)


The 77th World Health Assembly (WHA) began last Monday (5/27) and ended on Saturday (6/1) in Geneva, Switzerland. This year's World Health Organization (WHO) assembly, whose theme is “All for health. Health for all ", will be attended by global leaders, such as Brazil. Among the main topics to be discussed was a global treaty on pandemics, but the text was not ready for this week's summit due to a lack of consensus among its negotiators.

Brazil began activities at the World Health Assembly in a debate on investments in the WHO (photo: Bianca Lima, MS)

The expectation was that a new international instrument on pandemic preparedness, prevention and response would be approved. Despite progress in the negotiations, differences between the negotiators persist. To explain the risks involved in this delay, the coordination of the Fiocruz/USP Working Group (WG) on Agreement on Pandemics and Reform of the International Health Regulations (IHR) has prepared a note on the postponement of the conclusion of the agreement):

According to the note, the text of the agreement was negotiated over nine meetings, after technical consultations and some spaces for civil society participation, and achieved considerable progress in several areas, “such as equity in the prevention of and response to pandemics, strengthening of the WHO and access to information. However, disagreements persisted on sensitive topics such as technology transfer, funding and PABS (Pathogens, Access and Benefits)”.

Announced in March 2021 by the WHO board and leaders of several countries, the agreement would seek to prevent the dysfunctions of the international response to COVID-19 from repeating in future health emergencies. In December of the same year, an extraordinary WHA set up the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), made up of representatives of the member states, which was tasked with leading the drafting of the agreement. However, despite the efforts made by the WHO for more than two years, there was no consensus at the INB to submit a project to the Assembly within the allotted time.

According to the note, “disagreements reflecting a rift between the interests of the Global North and South prevented the text that was to be submitted to the WHA from being finalized. It has not been possible to overcome controversies, especially over the “One Health” approach (Article 5), the provisions on technology transfer (Article 11) and, above all, the PABS (Article 12).”

To know more about the progress of the negotiations and the risks that this delay brings, check out the full note (in Portuguese).

About the WG

The WG on Agreement on Pandemics and IHR Reform is an initiative of Fiocruz (Center for International Relations) and the University of São Paulo, USP (Institute of International Relations, IRI; and the Faculty of Public Health, with the Graduate Program in Global Health and Sustainability and the Center for Studies and Research in Health Law, CEPEDISA).

Multidisciplinary in nature, the WG is made up of experts and guests from the academic community, the health sector, civil society, parliament and state bodies related to the issue. Aimed at consolidating a perspective from the Global South, and particularly Brazil, on the regulation of Global Health, the WG intends to provide subsidies to society and the Brazilian state for critical monitoring of the negotiations underway and possible formulation of proposals, as well as to promote and disseminate academic production on this issue.

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