Protective suit for COVID-19.
The new guidelines hope to avoid future catastrophes like COVID-19. Photo: Pixabay.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation asks the World Health Organization to supervise new pandemic agreement

The new approach would create an independent body and the hope is it takes place before the next meeting at the end of February.


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Following the publication of the preliminary draft of WHO CA+, a new agreement on pandemics — which was drafted by the International Negotiating Body (INB) of the World Health Organization on Feb. 1 — the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is calling for the creation of an independent body, external and above the governance structure of the WHO to prevent another public health catastrophe such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

INB, which will analyze the WHO CA+ at its fourth meeting to be held between Feb. 27 and March 3, was addressed before the publication of the preliminary draft by global public health experts, who called for the creation of an independent body that would be above or outside the governance structure of WHO. The request was similar to that made by the United Nations General Assembly, which called for the establishment of a body that would comprise to heads of state and governments.

Dr. Jorge Saavedra, executive director of the AHF Global Public Health Institute, noted:

It was clear before and during the peaks of the pandemic that the WHO was not enough—not strong enough nor trusted enough—to enforce or convince all countries to follow the International Health Regulations [IHR-2005]. Too many countries went their own way and ignored WHO recommendations.

A request with backing

The request also takes into account the findings in the article from The Lancet: "A Global Public Health Convention for the 21st Century’ (A Global Convention for Public Health for the XXI Century)," which details the necessary reforms for a new global health architecture, among which are include equity, governance, global coordination, and global health financing, and finds WHO currently lacks an effective regulatory body with adequate mechanisms to promote regulatory compliance during a pandemic.

The independent body would address shortcomings noted during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including geopolitical division and blockades on health authorities, as well as the need to maintain high-level political engagement and monitor progress towards goals regarding the pandemic established by WHO.

It would also guide resource allocation in global health financing and hold people accountable.

“COVID-19 touched and impacted everything, from health and the economy to politics and communities. The WHO wasn’t sufficient, and thus we need a more effective body to deal with pandemics,” added Saavedra.

Insufficient contributions

The AHF also highlighted the lack of representation by non-state actors (non-governmental organizations/civil society) in the governing structure described in the proposed agreement.

“Throughout assessing the necessary reforms and proposing changes, non-state actors have been an integral component of the global health ecosystem. Therefore, civil society and other non-state actors must be given an adequate voice in the WHO CA+ process and structure moving forward,” said AHF.

“WHO also failed to obtain all the epidemiological and initial genomic sequencing information from China, which would have allowed scientists to discern the origins of SARS-CoV-2. The Wuhan lab leak theory is still a big question mark, and a lack of transparency on U.S. oversight on its grantees research has been called into question — another sign that WHO cannot even enforce epidemiological transparency — a weakness it’s had since its founding,” said Michael Weinstein, AHF president.


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