WHO chief hopes for ‘historic’ pandemic accord

The WHO president said on Sunday that a new pandemic agreement under negotiation must be a “historic agreement” that marks a radical shift in the approach to global health security following the Covid disaster.

“We cannot simply carry on as we did before,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said as he started the World Health Organization’s annual meeting in Geneva.

WHO member states have launched talks toward an international agreement to ensure that the world is better prepared to avoid or respond more effectively the next time a pandemic strikes.

The initiative is still in its early stages, but the goal is to obtain an agreement by the next World Health Assembly in May 2024.

“The pandemic accord that member states are now negotiating must be a historic agreement to make a paradigm shift in global health security, recognising that our fates are interwoven,” Tedros said at the start of the 10-day gathering.

That was also the message from a long line of other high-level speakers Sunday.

“I hope the current negotiations on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response result in a strong multilateral approach that saves lives,” UN chief Antonio Guterres said, speaking via video message.

Timor-Leste President Jose Manuel Ramos-Horta meanwhile pointed out that “every country, big or small, rich or poor, struggled to mount an adequate response to the pandemic”.

“This reminds us that we must build our house before the storm, not during the storm.”

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