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Global accountability to prevent pandemics

Introduction

The Panel for a Global Public Health Convention (GPHC) represents an independent coalition of global leaders working to strengthen the world’s ability to prevent, prepare, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks before they become widespread pandemics. The Panel was founded in 2020 in response to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic with the aim of bridging critical gaps in the global public health architecture and policy frameworks by promulgating a new global public health treaty or convention in an effort to ensure another pandemic of such magnitude does not happen again.

Who We Are

The Panel is chaired by Dame Barbara Stocking, President of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge and former chief executive of Oxfam GB. The Panel consists of six high-level members and one observer, and its work is informed by an advisory group of global experts in a diverse range of disciplines, including public health, medicine, diplomacy, and economics. The impetus for the creation of the Panel came from a research study titled “A Global Public Health Convention for the 21st Century”, which was published in the Lancet Public Health journal in May 2021. This study was conducted by the University of Miami under the leadership of Prof. José Szapocznik Ph.D., with the support of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. After the research team gathered and analyzed input from 29 public health thought leaders, it distilled this information into a list of 10 recommendations on what must be done to reform the global public health system to avoid another disastrous pandemic.

Our Members
Barbara M. Stocking, M.A., Dame Commander of the British Empire

Chair, Panel for a Global Public Health Convention President, Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge Former Chief Executive, Oxfam Great Britain Chair, Ebola Interim Assessment Panel

Jane Halton, P.S.M., Officer of the Order of Australia

Chair, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations Former President, World Health Assembly Former Secretary of Australian Department of Finance Former Secretary of Australian Department of Health

Laura Chinchilla Miranda, M.P.P.

Former President of Costa Rica Former Vice President and Minister of Justice, Government of Costa Rica

Ricardo B. Leite, M.D.

Vice-President of the Social Democratic Party Parliamentary Board, National Parliament of Portugal President and Founder, UNITE Global Parliamentarians Network to End Infectious Diseases

Lawrence O. Gostin, J.D.

University Professor and Founding O’Neill Chair in Global Health Law, Georgetown University Director, WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law

Jemilah Mahmood, M.D., FRCOG

Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Public Health, Government of Malaysia Former Under Secretary General, International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Society Former Chief, UN World Humanitarian Summit

Malebona Precious Matsoso, L.L.M.

Member, WHO Independent Panel for Prevention, Preparedness and Response Former Director General, National Department of Health, South Africa

Angel Gurría

Secretary-General, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)


The Study

“A Global Public Health Convention for the 21st Century” is freely accessible to the public via The Lancet Public Health website and in a pdf document. The recommendations in the study are central to the Panel’s efforts to bring about a much-needed paradigm shift in the global public health architecture in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Click on the buttons below to view a corresponding version of the article.

View Online View PDF

Our Mission

The Panel has resolved to ensure that its recommendations for a Global Public Health Convention for the 21st Century do not merely remain a theoretical proposal, as has happened to many similarly sound but unimplemented reform proposals in the past. To this end, the Panel has taken up the task of advocating for the recommendations to be adopted at the highest levels of government as a new legally binding treaty or convention. This would build hope and trust in the global community by ensuring timely cooperation, transparency, accountability, and compliance with agreed upon rules among countries to effectively prepare, prevent, and respond to public health outbreaks wherever they may occur.

The success or failure of international treaties and conventions is typically determined by the degree of compliance they garner from the signatories. Therefore, it is imperative that a new instrument have a compelling set of compliance-enhancing mechanisms, including incentives, disincentives, and perhaps sanctions, to promote broad-based buy-in that builds trust among countries, and supports global solidarity. Below is an overview of some key elements that should be incorporated into the proposed treaty or convention.

Overview of Characteristics
Mechanisms of Action

Treaty must be negotiated and ratified at the level of heads of state to include enforcement.

The instrument must have a system of incentives, disincentives and sanctions for implementation and compliance.

Transparency of governments:

- Immediate and transparent notification of outbreaks

- Ongoing data sharing throughout

- Acceptance of independent validation

Independent monitoring of preparedness and response

Inspectorate function needed - ability to enter a territory for inspection and compliance verification.

The key idea is for a Framework Convention that would focus first on the governance of a global system to ensure prevention, preparedness and response
Future protocols might include:

- Prevention, e.g. wildlife habitat and zoonotic risks etc.

- Equity and financing of global public goods, e.g. vaccines, among other provisions.

To build hope, trust and solidarity, the initial treaty must include the structure for the governance system, functions of inspectorate, incentives/disincentives and sanctions, and transparency requirements.


What’s next?

With the stated goal of advocating for the adoption of the GPHC recommendations at the highest levels of government, the Panel will direct its activities toward reaching heads of state and senior decision makers across the world – with a particular focus on engagement in relevant dialogues at the World Health Assembly, G20 and G7 summits, United Nations General Assemblies, and other multilateral forums.

The Panel aims to leverage these international platforms and the expertise of its members to inform country leaders about the steps that need to be taken to achieve lasting positive change in global pandemic preparedness and response, and build momentum toward the adoption of a rigorous global public health convention or treaty that will change all our futures.