World Health Organization (WHO) Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Sunday all countries must come together in an agreement to better contain future pandemics.
Dr. Tedros addressed the 2022 World Health Summit and decried a lack of cooperation between countries during the COVID-19 pandemic, stating it was among the defining characteristics of the outbreak. Tedros and the WHO have pushed for an agreement on a global pandemic treaty in an effort to strengthen future pandemic preparedness and response.
In the opening ceremony for the 2022 World Health Organization Summit, Dr. Tedros, Director General of the WHO, explains why it’s necessary to bind all countries to a pandemic treaty that will last “maybe even centuries to come”.https://t.co/jJvNxXrJEU for the latest. pic.twitter.com/1DCw1WnEZP
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“Taking global health to a new level means we need a new global agreement, or global accord, based on a shared vision,” Tedros said. “We can only face shared threats with a shared response, based on a shared commitment to solidarity and equity.”
Critics of the agreement, and of the WHO more broadly, argued a pandemic treaty will undermine national sovereignty and turn over response powers to the international body that they say, in many ways, failed during COVID-19. Tedros said such claims are inaccurate, and that all of the WHO’s member countries will have to ratify the proposed pandemic treaty by their own laws.
“The claim by some that this accord is an infringement of national sovereignty is quite simply wrong,” he said. “It will not give the WHO any powers to do anything without the express permission of sovereign nation states.” (RELATED: WHO Urges Gay Men To Cut Back On Number Of Sexual Partners To Avoid Monkeypox)
WHO members agreed to commence negotiations on a deal in late 2021, but some parties are far apart on what a treaty should look like. Entities such as the European Union are pushing for a stronger, legally-binding agreement, while the U.S. and others have pushed for a non-binding deal.
Tedros has been a frequent critic of wealthier countries that, according to him, did not adequately share resources like vaccines and PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO detractors have accused the organization of being too friendly with China and not aggressively pursuing an investigation into the origins of the pandemic.