Covid-19: Time has come for global pandemic treaty, says WHO chief

Filed on June 2, 2021
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Countries must work together to build a healthier, safer and fairer future, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says.

The Covid-19 pandemic has proved that the world needs a pandemic treaty to strengthen both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and global health security, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday.

"This is an idea whose time has come," said Ghebreyesus, in his closing remarks at the WHO's 74th World Health Assembly (WHA), which took placee online from May 24 to Tuesday.

Ghebreyesus said that the defining characteristic of the pandemic is the lack of sharing: of data, information, pathogens, technologies and resources.

"A treaty would foster improved sharing, trust and accountability, and provide the solid foundation on which to build other mechanisms for global health security.

"Pandemics are a threat to all of us. So we must work together to build a healthier, safer, fairer future -- for all of us," he said.

At the 2021 WHA, which had the theme "Ending this pandemic, preventing the next one", Ghebreyesus also called for a stronger and better-financed WHO.

"At present, pathogens have greater power than WHO. They are emerging more frequently in a planet out of balance. They exploit our interconnectedness and expose our inequities and divisions" he noted.

"The safety of the world's people cannot rely solely on the goodwill of governments," Ghebreyesus said, adding the need for more resources and authority along with an international treaty to connect countries that would strengthen the world's health security.

Ghebreyesus noted that the continuing decline in global Covid cases and deaths is very encouraging, "but it would be a monumental error for any country to think the danger has passed".

The world still faces "the same vulnerabilities that allowed a small outbreak to become a global pandemic", he said.

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