Fighting Future Pandemics - Eastern Mirror
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Editorial

Fighting Future Pandemics

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By The Editorial Team Updated: May 30, 2024 1:34 am

Amid experts cautioning about potential future pandemics, the World Health Organisation (WHO) may get more teeth with the adaptation of new international health regulations along with proposed ‘pandemic treaty’ at the ongoing World Health Assembly in Geneva. Attended by over 100 ministers of member nations, it is one of the most important meets of the world health body since its creation in 1948. The house will decide whether or not the proposed treaty will be legally-binding to all member states. It was evident during the COVID-19 pandemic that many member nations had wilfully violated the directives issued by the WHO. The response reduced the world body to a paper tiger and also weakened its efforts to control the spread of the deadly virus. Since then, the cry for providing more power to WHO has become louder as the world suffered due to the obstinate behaviour of a handful of nations.

However, the member nations failed to agree on the text of the proposed agreement before the initial deadline of May 10 even after two years of negotiations to formulate a global pact to help fight future pandemics. So, WHO had to convene an emergency meeting to keep negotiations on track. If the member countries decide to sign the proposed accord, the world may witness several changes in WHO’s response during future health crises. For instance, the treaty proposes that the world health body have the necessary power to declare pandemic emergency for the most serious public health threats. At present, WHO can declare only Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEIC). Even if a few countries oppose, the support of the majority may pave the way for this change, which is meant to provide power to the organisation. Similarly, Article 12 of the proposed treaty envisages that WHO distributes approximately 20 per cent of tests, treatment and vaccines to poor nations during a crisis. This is an important step in the backdrop of rich nations refusing to help poorer countries with vaccines and treatment during the COVID-19 crisis.

Due to the self-serving policies of some nations, the vaccination process against COVID-19 is yet to be completed in many poor nations. So, the proposed treaty, if struck, will not only help the world to combat pandemics on time, but also help provide equal facilities to wealthy and poorer countries. However, it is disheartening to note that a few nations are still trying to put national interests ahead of collective world interest. The outcome of the World Health Assembly will decide the roadmap to deal with future pandemics.

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By The Editorial Team Updated: May 30, 2024 1:34:59 am
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