Delegation of the European Union to the

UN and other international organisations in Geneva

WHO working group meeting on pandemic preparedness and response

Geneva, 02/09/2021 - 13:04, UNIQUE ID: 210902_6
Statements on behalf of the EU

Madam chair,

Thank you for giving me the floor. I am speaking on behalf of the EU and its 27 member states. The initial views on a Pandemic Treaty about to be presented were also submitted to the WHO Dashboard, to further foster dialog as the working group moves towards the special assembly. I will address all 4 questions in this intervention.

On the question of merit:

The Pandemic Treaty should be designed to improve the global performance in preventing, preparing for, and eventually responding to future pandemics at national and international level. It should contribute to strengthening WHO and support and complement the International Health Regulations (as foreseen in IHR Article 57.2) while respecting the integrity of IHR and the relationship between the legal instruments. It would be mainly focussed on issues not covered by the IHR. By taking a comprehensive and balanced approach between preparedness and response, it can also be a one-stop-shop for Member States actions in response to a pandemic.

On the question of scope and gaps addressed. We see the Treaty structured in the following way:

First, a High-level political declaration affirming a set of overarching, horizontal, principles or values, such as: human rights, equity, transparency, Universal Health coverage, socio-economic safety nets, community engagement and an intersectoral, whole-of-government approach.

Then, a set of actions that can be divided into Prevention, Preparedness and Response.

Some Prevention and Preparedness actions can be taken within the IHR Framework and through a better implementation and accountability, for example, through a possible peer-review mechanism. Other actions are not covered by the IHR. A notable example is the “One health” approach which is relevant to preparedness and response as well as the prevention of zoonotic risks. It is important that preparedness be linked with health system strengthening and with increasing health workforce capabilities to prevent, detect and respond to health security threats.

Response actions are manifold, however, here, we share a short list of possibilities. These actions would be triggered by a formal Declaration of a Pandemic. They are as follows:

  1. Equitable access to countermeasures, which has been one of the major failures of the current global response
  2. Data and sample sharing, which are a notable absence from the IHR,
  3. Access for health emergency workforce and global assistance to outbreak areas. This topic covers several aspects such as: developing a global health emergency workforce, access of the workforce to outbreak areas to support the local workforce in preventing an outbreak becoming a pandemic, and surging of other resources and assistance to outbreak areas.
  4. Travel measures, where we see a need for a more predictable and cohesive system

Finally, the treaty would also include administrative and procedural enablers, that would include sustainable financing mechanisms for prevention, preparedness and response, including for capacity building and mobilisation of “surge” funding in the event of a pandemic.  Furthermore, this part of the treaty could include a regular conference of the parties to provide a space for political, technical, and administrative dialogues among the parties.

We believe that a comprehensive and robust structure that complements the IHR is the best way forward as bold actions are needed to curb this pandemic and prevent future ones.

Thank you.

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