During the COVID-19 pandemic, governments around the world have taken varied approaches to protect the health of their citizens. While some nations and regions have strived collaborate and support each other with the sharing of knowledge and resources, others have worked in isolation. This, over the past two years, has worked to varying degrees of success, and has highlighted vulnerabilities in the world’s current response to health emergencies.
On December 1st, 2021, the World Health Assembly agreed to begin work on an international instrument that would eliminate this fragmented response in future pandemics, instead unifying and strengthening the global approach to pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. The new agreement will be incorporated into the World Health Organization’s Constitution, making it a core part of our global health architecture.
The new instrument will promote a more robust and co-ordinated way of preventing and managing pandemics in future generations, incorporating the experiences and learnings that have been encountered during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
With the ability to foster an ‘all-of-government’ and ‘all-of-society’ approach, this new convention could fortify national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics. It has the potential to enhance international co-operation, to improve data sharing, alert systems, and research, and to accelerate the production and distribution of medical supplies and resources. In addition to protecting the health of humans, the new agreement could also include provisions for the welfare of wildlife and the environment, in line with the WHO’s ‘One Health’ approach.
The World Health Assembly’s new agreement is welcomed by the PANDEM-2 project, which also aims to create solutions that will promote cohesion and co-operation in an EU-wide approach to future pandemics. By building the capacity to respond to pandemics on a cross-border basis, we become more we become more effective at preventing and managing the next health emergency.