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World Leaders Pledge Historic Commitment to Pandemic Preparedness and Response

In a momentous development at the United Nations General Assembly, global leaders have made an unprecedented commitment to enhance international cooperation, coordination, governance, and investments aimed at averting the devastating health and socioeconomic impacts witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic. This landmark declaration signifies a pivotal step toward bolstering the world’s readiness for future pandemics while reaffirming the commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

A Milestone Summit on Pandemic Prevention and Response

The world witnessed a historic milestone with the first-ever head of state summit dedicated to pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, lauded this commitment by world leaders, emphasizing the vital role it plays in safeguarding global populations from the dire consequences of pandemics. He expressed his appreciation for the political support and direction it provides to entities like WHO, governments, and all stakeholders involved, facilitating concrete actions to invest in local capacities, ensure equity, and reinforce the global emergency health infrastructure.

Key Outcomes of the Political Declaration

The political declaration, approved under the guidance of Mr. Dennis Francis, President of the 78th United Nations General Assembly, and skillful leadership from Ambassadors Gilad Erdan of Israel and Omar Hilale of Morocco, underscores the pivotal role of WHO as the “directing and coordinating authority on international health.” It also emphasizes the imperative of committing to sustainable financing, ensuring adequate and predictable funding for WHO to fulfill its core functions effectively.

Learning from the COVID-19 Experience

Dr. Tedros emphasizes that the lessons drawn from the COVID-19 pandemic experience must guide future endeavors. It is imperative to protect communities better, engage, inform, and empower them as part of the solution. Strengthening clinical care systems, promoting equitable access to medical countermeasures, and bolstering health worker capacity are among the concrete steps forward.

Building a Safer World

Dr. Tedros acknowledged the initiatives already underway to build a safer world, including the establishment of the Pandemic Fund, the WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence, the WHO BioHub for sharing biological materials, and the mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub. However, he also stressed the need for further enhancements in the global health emergency architecture to prevent a recurrence of a crisis like COVID-19.

Priorities Outlined in the Declaration

The political declaration outlines critical measures that member states need to undertake, including:

  1. Concluding negotiations on a WHO convention or international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response (Pandemic Accord) and targeted amendments to the International Health Regulations by May 2024.
  2. Ensuring sustainable, affordable, equitable, and timely access to medical countermeasures such as vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics.
  3. Countering health-related misinformation, disinformation, and stigmatization, particularly on social media platforms, to strengthen public health trust and education.
  4. Investing in primary healthcare and health system measures to ensure robust national health systems for pandemic response.
  5. Sustainable financing of WHO and national health systems.
  6. Strengthening health workforce and rapid response capacities, surveillance, and local manufacturing capabilities.
  7. Scaling up health system capacities in low- and lower-middle income countries, with a focus on Africa.
  8. Leveraging the multilateral system and adopting a multisectoral approach to enhance pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.

Global Leaders Unite

Following the approval of the political declaration, leaders from United Nations Member States have voiced their unwavering commitment to pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. Their statements underscore the critical importance of establishing a robust, coordinated, and comprehensive global health emergency architecture to protect the world from future pandemics. This momentous pledge represents a significant step toward a safer and more resilient world in the face of global health challenges.

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