WHO member states extend pandemic agreement talks for another year

<p>PNA file photo</p>

PNA file photo

GENEVA – Member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) agreed on Saturday to extend the talks over the pandemic agreement for another year, allowing for more time needed to finalize the landmark treaty to combat future pandemics and enhance preparedness.

The Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), which was established in December 2021 to draft the agreement and guide the negotiation process, will continue its mandate to deliver the agreement by the next World Health Assembly in 2025, or earlier, if possible, at a special session of the health assembly in 2024.

"There was a clear consensus amongst all Member States on the need for a further instrument to help the world better fight a full-blown pandemic," said INB co-chair Precious Matsoso.

This year's World Health Assembly also agreed on a package of amendments to another international instrument, the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR), introducing a definition of a pandemic emergency to trigger more effective international collaboration in response to a potential pandemic.

The amendments will bolster countries' ability to detect and respond to future outbreaks and pandemics by strengthening their own national capacities, and coordination between member states, on disease surveillance, information sharing and response, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

"Today's strengthening of the IHR provides powerful momentum to complete the Pandemic Agreement, which, once finalized, can help to prevent a repeat of the devastation to health, societies and economies caused by Covid-19," the WHO head added. (Xinhua)