GENEVA, Switzerland – Countries of the World Health Organization (WHO) have mapped out how negotiations on a global accord on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response will move forward with a view to presenting a draft accord for approval by the World Health Assembly in May 2024.
Ending Thursday, discussions on the draft pandemic accord took place during the fifth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), which includes WHO’s 194 countries.
Precious Matsoso, co-chair of the INB Bureau, from South Africa, said: “Countries from all parts of the world were able to discuss their ideas, concerns and suggestions in a forum for all countries to hear and consider.”
Countries agreed to keep a window open for additional written proposals until 22 April and that those proposals will be compiled with all others made over recent weeks into a package that will be made available to all drafting group participants.
The INB Bureau will then provide, by 22 May, in addition to this package, for consideration of the Drafting Group, a Bureau’s Text, including options where feasible, based on all submissions received and included in the compilation document. The drafting group of the INB will then meet in June to continue negotiations.
INB Bureau co-chair, Roland Driece of the Netherlands, said: “The world realises that what we want and need to achieve is an accord that will help us not to repeat the mistakes of the COVID-19 pandemic response. There are many proposals and constructive suggestions on the table for how to do this.”
According to the process agreed by governments at a special session of the World Health Assembly in late 2021, negotiations on the draft pandemic accord will aim to produce a final draft for consideration by the 77th World Health Assembly in May 2024.
In parallel with the pandemic accord negotiations, governments are also discussing more than 300 amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) in an effort to strengthen those regulations and make the world safer from communicable diseases while ensuring greater equity in the global response to public health emergencies.
Governments have been working to ensure consistency and alignment across the INB and IHR processes. The proposed IHR amendments will also be presented to the World Health Assembly in 2024, and would together, with a future pandemic accord, provide a comprehensive, complementary, and synergistic set of global health agreements.