Global accountability to prevent pandemics

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An International Treaty on Pandemics is Vital, But Success Depends on Compliance, says the Panel for a Global Public Health Convention

LONDON & MIAMI–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A newly formed Panel for a Global Public Health Convention applauded today the leaders of over 20 countries who jointly issued a call for a new international treaty on pandemic preparedness and response. The proposed treaty would seek to strengthen global health architecture to address pandemics such as COVID-19 more rapidly and effectively, and foster cooperation across the world.

The Panel for a Global Public Health Convention, which is led by Dame Barbara Stocking, President of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge and former chief executive of Oxfam GB, 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.

“We fully support a proposal for a new treaty or convention on pandemics – COVID-19 has exposed just how vulnerable and unprepared the world is to face a crisis of this magnitude, however up until now compliance has been the missing link in existing global public health agreements such as the International Health Regulations – we would like this to be strengthened,” said Dame Barbara. “We completely understand and empathize with the points articulated in the recent proposal concerning equity, and interconnectedness of human and animal health, but the very first thing that needs to be addressed in any potential pandemic treaty is independent monitoring and compliance with agreed upon rules – without this, it would be difficult to achieve any substantive changes.”

The recent joint appeal by heads of state for a treaty was published in the Telegraph and has been endorsed by Boris Johnson, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, and World Health Organization (WHO) Secretary-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, among other high-ranking leaders.

The idea of a global treaty or convention on health is becoming increasingly salient at a time when a lack of coordination and cooperation among nations is impacting everything from equitable vaccine access to exchange of scientific data essential to better understanding of the ongoing pandemic, while the number of deaths due to COVID-19 continues to climb toward 3 million worldwide.

The role of the Panel is to leverage individual and combined efforts of its members to persuade international bodies and high-level leaders that a new legal framework for global public health governance is essential to creating a more safe and secure way to manage threats to global public health. This Panel builds on the work of the Global Public Health Convention for the 21st Century, a research study currently in press at Lancet Public Health. Both this prior work, and the Panel are financially supported by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Anicca Liu
Project Manger, Panel for a Global Public Health Convention