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Pandemic treaty

World unprepared for another pandemic as WHO treaty talks push on

World unprepared for another pandemic as WHO treaty talks push on
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), delivers his statement during the opening of the 77th World Health Assembly (WHA77) at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, 27 May 2024. This year's World Health Assembly is taking place from 27 May through 01 June 2024 and is 'focusing on the resolution on Social participation for universal health coverage, health and well-being and election advocacy', the organization announces on their website. EPA-EFE/SALVATORE DI NOLFI

LONDON, May 31 (Reuters) - The world is unprepared for another health crisis like COVID-19, a leading global health expert has warned, as countries make a last push to agree a way forward for a pandemic treaty amid fears the political climate for agreement could sour.

World Health Organization member states gathered in Geneva on Friday to work out how to continue negotiations about an accord after missing this month’s deadline.

“We only hope that… (in the) next few months, we don’t have another pandemic that finds us in a world which is still unprepared for a major crisis,” Muhammad Ali Pate, Nigeria’s health minister and a board member of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, told Reuters.

A major sticking point in the treaty has been provisions for low and middle-income countries to have access to 20% of tests, treatments and vaccines developed to fight the pandemic, either at no-profit costs or donated.

Ali Pate said the figure was reasonable to avoid the scramble for life-saving products that saw African countries last-in-line during COVID.

While talks on the treaty are likely to continue for several months or even years, a parallel process to update an existing set of rules that govern international disease outbreaks are closer to agreement, sources said, and could be signed off before the end of the WHO’s annual meeting on Saturday.

Other negotiators and observers said there was a sense of urgency in the treaty talks, not least because of concerns that elections in a number of key countries this year could bring in right-leaning governments who fear the treaty could threaten their sovereignty, which the WHO denies and a clause in the document guards against.

“This needs to be done now or else things are only going to get worse with things moving to the right,” said one Western diplomat.

(Reporting by Emma Farge and Jennifer Rigby; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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  • Clifton Coetzee says:

    The WHO seems to be more concerned with Global political control, than disease control.
    I will never again trust the WHO nor any declaration of a pandemic. Covid-19 was the biggest scam ever perpetrated upon humanity. Hundreds, if not thousands of Covid conspirators should be sent to prison for the rest of their lives.

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