'The question is not if, but when': World leaders call for treaty to fight future pandemics

Leaders of more than two dozen countries, the European Union and the World Health Organization are calling for a new international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response, the New York Times reported.

In a March 30 joint op-ed article published globally, the leaders call the COVID-19 pandemic "the biggest challenge to the global community since the 1940s," and predict other pandemics and other major health emergencies. 

"No single government or multilateral agency can address this threat alone. The question is not if, but when," the leaders wrote. "Together, we must be better prepared to predict, prevent, detect, assess and effectively respond to pandemics in a highly coordinated fashion. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe."

The leaders said they are committed to ensuring universal and equitable access to vaccines, medicines and diagnostics.

The article states that a renewed collective commitment, via a new international treaty, would be rooted in the WHO constitution and underpinned by global health instruments.

The goal "would be to foster an all-of-government and all-of-society approach, strengthening national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics," the leaders said.

They said the treaty would call for improved alert systems, data-sharing, research and local, regional and global production and distribution of vaccines, medicines, diagnostics and personal protective equipment.

Signatories of the letter include European countries and the WHO, as well as nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, according to the Times. The U.S. has not signed the letter. 

Read the full op-ed article here

 

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