GHTC delivers statement on WHO’s emergency response at HHS WHA listening session
GHTC delivered the following statement, on the 74th World Health Assembly (WHA) agenda item 17.3, WHO’s work in health emergencies, on May 13, 2021 at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) WHA stakeholder listening session:
The Global Health Technologies Coalition appreciates the opportunity to comment on the agenda item focused on WHO’s work in health emergencies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear that there are severe gaps in global health security preparedness. The global community has been slow to build—and adequately resource—coordinated international frameworks or mechanisms to advance the technologies needed to combat potential health emergencies. No global framework currently exists for assessing and strengthening the capacity of countries to develop, approve, manufacture, and deploy vaccines, treatments, diagnostics, and other health technologies—despite the importance of these tools in preparing for and responding to global health challenges.
As conversations about World Health Organization (WHO) reform continue, we urge the US to prioritize R&D strengthening as part of the ongoing International Health Regulations (IHR) implementation discussions. The IHR framework must include R&D as a central pillar of preparedness.
The recent report by the Review Committee on the Functioning of the International Health Regulations highlighted that the IHR are concerned with early detection, alert, preparedness, and response, but, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, much stronger and better coordinated global action is needed to improve both preparedness and response. The IHR make no mention of rapid sharing of genetic information and samples of pathogens of concern, with adequate access to benefit; research coordination; or development of and equitable access to medical countermeasures and other innovations developed during emergencies. An R&D coordination mechanism, which could be a vital part of the currently discussed treaty on pandemics, could facilitate the rapid sharing of scientific findings and samples within the global scientific community and facilitate greater coordination between important stakeholders. We therefore urge the US to ensure that any dialogue focused on a pandemic treaty also integrates R&D and scientific coordination into its framework.