Millions of lives and livelihoods have been lost, supply chains and trade are in tatters and lifesaving vaccines, treatments and tests unfairly distributed driving further waves of death and prolonging the pandemic.
A microscopic virus has been a terrible and catastrophic wake-up call to all. It has shown that the infrastructure that is supposed to ensure global health security was clearly far from adequately prepared to prevent and respond to a pandemic, and requires urgent reform.
A warmer world and increased urbanization, putting both humans and animals closer to dwindling resources, clearly points to future epidemics and pandemics that will be potentially faster and deadlier. As Health Ministers from across the globe meet at the end of this month to discuss a comprehensive global health architecture for pandemic preparedness and response, we call for a new pandemic prevention treaty, in accordance with World Health Assembly decision WHA74(16), with legally binding provisions, a clear mandate and the authority to coordinate global pandemic preparedness and response, with mechanisms for verification and compliance to stop the next infectious disease developing from an outbreak into a pandemic. This treaty is needed to provide international collaboration to support the needed response for the next pandemic, in doing so boosting coherence in the global public health architecture and WHO’s pivotal role within this.
Such a treaty should include provisions for all countries to, among others: Develop and upgrade health surveillance and pandemic preparedness plans so that when an early warning signal is received all countries take quick action, notify the World Health Organization and other countries of outbreaks, and provide ongoing real-time data, including virus samples. This will ensure a basis for early public health recommendations and measures and speed up research and development.
–Develop and upgrade health surveillance and pandemic preparedness plans so that when an early warning signal is received all countries take quick action, notify the World Health Organization and other countries of outbreaks, and provide ongoing real-time data, including virus samples. This will ensure a basis for early public health recommendations and measures and speed up research and development.
–Take quick action, at an early warning stage and based on WHO’s advice, when a Public Health Emergency of International Concern is declared, and throughout the ensuing emergency or pandemic.
–Provide clear mechanisms to ensure equitable manufacturing and distribution of PPE, tests, treatments and vaccines so that all countries can detect, respond and treat.
–Establish a sustainable financing mechanism so that low- and middle-income countries can upgrade surveillance and preparedness support under the principles of global equity and solidarity to carry this out.
–Support accountability by accepting independent monitoring, as well as quick, transparent and independent verification of data, preparedness capabilities, and the adequacy of outbreak and pandemic response.
Building on previous recommendations of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR), the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), the International Health Regulation (IHR) Review Committee, the Working Group on Strengthening WHO Preparedness for and Response to Health Emergencies (WGPR), the Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development, and the G20 High-Level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, we add our voice to spur action.
The world has the scientific knowledge to prevent such an event from happening again, but we must act now. This is paramount to enable us to build back better so we may swiftly and soundly return to our lives, confident that such a catastrophic pandemic will not afflict us again.
We respectfully ask for your leadership and commitment towards the achievement of a new pandemic prevention treaty, with legally binding provisions, a clear mandate and authority on the coordination of global pandemic preparedness and response and mechanisms for verification and compliance. World leaders must seize the opportunity of this year’s World Health Assembly at the end of this month to manifest this commitment and formally launch an intergovernmental process that will lead to the negotiations necessary for the eventual adoption of a legally binding pandemic prevention treaty.
Danilo Türk – President of Club de Madrid and President of Slovenia (2007-2012)
Dame Barbara M. Stocking – Chair of the Panel for a Global Public Health Convention and President of Murray Edwards College at the University of Cambridge
Kim Cambell – Member of Club de Madrid and Prime Minister of Canada (1993)
Gordon Brown – Member of Club de Madrid and Primer Minister of the United Kingdom (2007-2010)