Leaders from 23 countries and the World Health Organization on Tuesday backed an idea to create an international treaty designed to help the world deal with future health emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic that has now ravaged the globe.
The idea of such a treaty, which aims to ensure universal and equitable access to vaccines, drugs and diagnostics for pandemics, was launched by the chairman of the leader of the European Union, Charles Michel, at a G-20 summit last November.
On Tuesday it received formal support from the leaders of Fiji, Portugal, Romania, Great Britain, Rwanda, Kenya, France, Germany, Greece, Korea, Chile, Costa Rica, Albania, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, the Netherlands, Tunisia, Senegal, Spain, Norway, Serbia, Indonesia, Ukraine and the WHO.
“There will be other pandemics and other major health emergencies. No single government or multilateral agency can address this threat alone,” wrote the leaders in a joint opinion article in major newspapers.
“We believe the nations should work together to develop a new international treaty for preparing and responding to pandemics,” they said.
The main objective of such a contract would be to strengthen the world’s resilience to future pandemics through better warning systems, data sharing, research, and the manufacture and distribution of vaccines, medicines, diagnostics and personal protective equipment.
The treaty would also stipulate that human, animal and planet health are interconnected and should lead to shared responsibility, transparency and collaboration on a global scale.
“We believe that it is our responsibility as leaders of nations and international institutions to ensure that the world learns the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the leaders wrote.
The United States and China have responded positively to the idea, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Tuesday.
The WHO chief said that discussions so far had taken place on an “opt-in” basis, although regional representatives had been invited.
“When the discussion on the pandemic begins, all member states will be represented,” he said.
“From the discussions we had during the Member States’ meetings, it emerged that the comments from Member States, including the US and China, were indeed positive and we hope that future engagement will bring all countries (in). “