The European Union and its Member States, for the second year in a row, have spearheaded a resolution at the WHA to strengthen WHO preparedness and response to health emergencies. This resolution is an important step in our collective endeavor to draw all the lessons from the pandemic and to improve our systems and tools for prevention, preparedness and response, by building back better. It sets up a Member States Working Group on Strengthening WHO preparedness and response to consider the findings and recommendations of the evaluation panels and to report to the World Health Assembly in May 2022.
“We now need to harvest the political momentum and take on the responsibility to build a healthy, safe, and fairer world,” says EU Ambassador Knudsen.
The EU and a group of countries from across all WHO regions have also built a large coalition to ensure that the 74th session of the World Health Assembly paves the way for establishing a process for a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on Pandemic Preparedness and Response.
Both texts adopted at the World Health Assembly on 31 May have more than 60 co-sponsors from all WHO regions and thus can be seen as two key successes. These two initiatives show the international community’s political commitment to join forces in strengthening the global health architecture and the World Health Organisation, in light of lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The world must be equipped with the necessary tools and powers to respond to global health crises. COVID-19 has shed light over existing legal gaps. We are responsible to take urgent action. This is what 194 countries have committed to in an EU-led resolution and decision at #WHA74” tweeted EU High Representative Josep Borrell immediately after the adoption.
The EU and its Member States have supported/co-sponsored a number of resolutions and decisions across a range of health topics addressed during the session, including on health workforce, local production of medicines and other health technologies and mental health.
The EU has been at the forefront of international efforts to tackle the COVID-19 crisis everywhere, helping to mobilise funding in support of the ACT-Accelerator. Team Europe is a top contributor with 4.9 billion to ACT-A, including 2.77 billion to the COVAX Facility. The EU is also the largest exporter of COVID-19 vaccines to the world and will continue its efforts to increase global vaccine production capacities in order to meet global needs.