The COVID-19 pandemic proves that the world needs a pandemic treaty, says WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
It’s the one major change, Tedros said, that would do the most to boost global health security and also empower the World Health Organization. “This is an idea whose time has come,” Tedros told diplomats attending the final day of the World Health Assembly in Geneva. More than two dozen world leaders said in March that they support an international treaty or framework on pandemic preparedness and response, signing a letter whose signatories notably did not include the U.S., China or Russia.
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“The United States was one of the countries that supported the resolution to hold the special session,” the WHO said Monday in response to an NPR inquiry. “That is not to say it has committed to support the treaty yet, as the process of moving forward was only confirmed today.” In Tedros’ closing remarks, he welcomed calls for a stronger and better-financed WHO. But while more resources and authority are direly needed, he said, an international treaty would connect countries in ways that strengthen the world’s health security.
“At present, pathogens have greater power than WHO. They are emerging more frequently in a planet out of balance. They exploit our interconnectedness and expose our inequities and divisions,” Tedros said. “The safety of the world’s people cannot rely solely on the goodwill of governments.” A treaty would make countries more accountable to one another, he said [NPR].
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