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Nations must partner WHO on pandemic treaty – Experts

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WORLD Health Organisation (WHO) must be strengthened with more funding and greater ability to investigate pandemics through a new treaty.

An independent panel meeting ahead of a conference of health ministers slated for next week stated this today in a news conference.

The panel co-chairs, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, reiterated a call for urgent reforms. According to them, these included new financing of at least $10 billion a year for pandemic preparedness, and negotiations on a global pandemic treaty.

Regretting that efforts to end the pandemic have been uneven and fragmented, marked by limited access to vaccines in low-income countries, the panel lamented that “healthy and wealthy” in rich countries get boosters.

“There is progress, but it is not fast or cohesive enough to bring this pandemic to an end across the globe in the near term, or to prevent another,” the panel said in the report. Strengthening the authority and independence of the WHO and developing new legal instruments are pivotal to the package of reforms required. WHO requires more funding and greater ability to investigate and report potential pandemics more quickly and independently. A treaty should aim to build preparedness, strengthen obligations for countries to alert the WHO to outbreaks and allow speedy investigations, and ensure fair access to vaccines and drug. For WHO to respond to its full potential to pandemic threats, constraints on it need to be removed, not least through adequate, flexible funding,” the panel said.

In May, the panel evaluated how the WHO and member countries had handled the pandemic, and said a new global response system should be set up to ensure that no future virus can cause a pandemic as devastating.

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