International Health Regulations (IHR)

Statement, May 2021

SOUTH CENTRE STATEMENT FOR NAM HEALTH MINISTERS MEETING AT THE 74TH WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY

A new pandemic treaty, if negotiated, should contribute to establish a stronger international health framework, suitable to countries with different levels of development, and equip WHO with the appropriate enforcement mechanisms and tools. Read the South Centre statement.

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Statement, May 2021

South Centre General Statement to the Seventy-fourth World Health Assembly

Various interrelated processes, including a possible new pandemic treaty, are at play in addressing the current and future pandemics. Read the South Centre statement to the 74th World Health Assembly.

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SouthViews No. 218, 19 May 2021

The Proposed Pandemic Treaty and the Challenge of the South for a Robust Diplomacy

By Obijiofor Aginam

The motivation for a pandemic treaty is infallible because of the ‘globalization of public health’ in a rapidly evolving interdependence of nations, societies, and peoples. Notwithstanding the lofty purposes of the proposed pandemic treaty as a tool for effective cooperation by member-states of the WHO to address emerging and re-emerging disease pandemics in an inter-dependent world, the proposal nonetheless raises some structural and procedural conundrums for the Global South. The negotiation of a pandemic treaty should, as a matter of necessity, take into account the asymmetries of World Health Organization member-states and the interests of the Global South.

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Policy Brief 93, May 2021

A New WHO International Treaty on Pandemic Preparedness and Response: Can It Address the Needs of the Global South?

By Dr. Germán Velásquez and Nirmalya Syam

A recent joint communiqué by 25 Heads of Government and the WHO Director-General have called for the negotiation of a pandemic treaty to enable countries around the world to strengthen national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of the mechanisms at the disposal of WHO for preparedness and response to pandemics. The use of binding instruments to promote and protect health in the context of pandemics is needed. If WHO Member States decide that an international treaty to prepare and respond to pandemics is the way forward, it would be important to have clarity from the outset on the elements and areas that will be the subject of negotiation. The first step should be to identify the aspects of pandemic preparedness and response that the current crisis has revealed are not working, and how to build up on the existing instruments, notably the International Health Regulations (IHR). This paper discusses some of the critical issues that should be addressed in such a treaty if negotiations are launched, in view of the needs of countries at different levels of development and with disparate capacities to implement treaty obligations.

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Document de Recherche 121, Janvier 2021

Les réformes de l’Organisation mondiale de la Santé a l’époque de COVID-19

Par Germán Velásquez

Tout au long de ses 70 ans d’histoire, l’OMS a connu plusieurs réformes dirigées par plusieurs Directeurs généraux, tels que Halfdan Mahler à la Conférence d’Almaty sur les soins de santé primaires, en 1978, Gro Harlem Brundtland avec son appel à « tendre la main au secteur privé », en 1998, et Margaret Chan avec son débat inachevé sur le rôle des «acteurs non étatiques », en 2012. Une fois de plus, la crise sanitaire de 2020 a mis en évidence la fragilité de l’organisation et a révélé que l’OMS ne dispose pas des instruments et mécanismes juridiques nécessaires pour mettre en œuvre ses normes et lignes directrices, et que son financement n’est pas durable et adéquat pour répondre au défi de la COVID-19. Ce document cherche à identifier les principaux problèmes rencontrés par l’OMS et les mesures nécessaires qu’une réforme de l’Organisation devrait prendre.

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Documento de Investigación 121, Noviembre 2020

Las reformas de la Organización Mundial de la Salud en la época de COVID-19

Por Germán Velásquez

A lo largo de sus 70 años de historia la OMS ha pasado por varias reformas lideradas por varios directores generales, como Halfdan Mahler en la Conferencia de Alma ata sobre la atención primaria de salud, 1978, Gro Harlem Brundtland con su « reach out to the private sector » 1998, Margaret Chan con su inconcluso debate sobre el rol de « los autores no estatales » 2012 . Una vez mas, y de forma contundente la crisis sanitaria del 2020 pone en evidencia la fragilidad de la Organización y nos revela que la OMS no tiene los instrumentos y mecanismos legales necesarios para aplicar sus normas y orientaciones y que su manera de financiamiento no es sostenible y adecuada para responder al desafío de la COVID-19. Este documento trata de identificar cuales son los problemas principales de que sufre la OMS y cuales serian las medidas necesarias que una reforma de la Organización tendría que abordar.

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Research Paper 121, November 2020

The World Health Organization Reforms in the Time of COVID-19  

By Germán Velásquez

During its 70-year history, the World Health Organization (WHO) has undergone various reforms led by several Directors-General, including Halfdan Mahler at the Almaty Conference on primary health care in 1978, Gro Harlem Brundtland with her “reach out to the private sector” in 1998, and Margaret Chan with her unfinished debate on the role of “non-state actors” in 2012. The organization’s fragility is once again being highlighted, as the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that WHO does not have the legal instruments and mechanisms necessary to enforce its standards and guidelines, and that its funding is not sustainable and adequate to respond to the challenge. This paper seeks to identify the main problems faced by WHO and the necessary measures that a reform of the organization would have to take.

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Policy Brief 81, July 2020

The UN General Assembly Resolutions on COVID-19: Solemn Assurances for Access to Health Technologies without an Action Plan

By Nirmalya Syam

The United Nations (UN) has the mandate under the Charter of the United Nations to promote solutions to international health problems, such as the global COVID-19 pandemic. While the UN secretariat, led by the Secretary-General, has undertaken a number of initiatives in response to COVID-19, member State initiatives in the UN has so far been limited to two resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly. Member States are currently negotiating an omnibus resolution of the General Assembly on COVID-19.  This policy brief analyzes the extent to which the General Assembly addresses the issue of timely, equitable and affordable access to health technologies, particularly for developing countries who have greater vulnerability to COVID-19. The adopted resolutions make very broad pledges for global solidarity but lack specific commitments to guide actions by member States. The omnibus resolution currently under negotiation should provide specific guidance to member States on actions to be taken based on the principles of solidarity and multilateral cooperation in diverse aspects impacted by COVID-19.

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Policy Brief 78, May 2020

The 73rd World Health Assembly and Resolution on COVID-19: Quest of Global Solidarity for Equitable Access to Health Products

By Nirmalya Syam, Mirza Alas and Vitor Ido

The annual meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA) of the World Health Organization (WHO) held virtually on 18-19 May 2020 discussed the global response to COVID-19 and adopted Resolution WHA73.1 on “COVID-19 Response”. The Resolution reaffirms the role of WHO as the directing and coordinating authority on international health work and it recognizes that all countries should have timely and affordable access to diagnostics, therapeutics, medicines and vaccines as well as to essential health technologies and equipment to respond to COVID-19. However, the Resolution does not define concrete actions to address the pandemic. Though the Resolution makes a commitment of ensuring access to medical products, vaccines and equipment for all countries in a timely manner, there are no concrete actions defined.  In order to ensure global equitable access, WHO Members should make full use of the flexibilities of the Agreement on the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)  and also enhance transparency of costs of research and development (R&D), openness and sharing of data, tools and technologies, and build more capacity through technology transfer.

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