Home   »   UPSC Current Affairs 2024   »   WHO Pandemic Agreement

Editorial of the Day (29th Mar): WHO Pandemic Agreement

Context: The World Health Organization Pandemic Agreement might be in jeopardy of failing.

WHO Pandemic Agreement: An Overview

  • Origin: Announced in March 2021 by world leaders, it’s being developed by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Goal: Strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, with a focus on equity.
    • Respond to the disparities highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including preparedness and international coordination.

Key Features

  • Addresses issues like:
    • Pathogen surveillance
    • Healthcare workforce capacity
    • Supply chain and logistics
    • Technology transfer for vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments
    • Antimicrobial resistance management
    • Strengthening health systems and sanitation
    • Universal health coverage
  • Establishment of a WHO Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing (PABS) System for sharing pathogens and research benefits.
  • Proposed a Conference of Parties (COP) to oversee implementation.

Concerns with the WHO Pandemic Agreement

  • Data Sharing vs. Benefit Sharing:
    • Developing countries’ concern: countries hesitate to share pathogen data (spread and evolution) without guaranteed access to research benefits like vaccines.
    • COVID-19 impact: “Vaccine nationalism” during the pandemic worsened this concern.
  • The WHO Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing (PABS) System:
    • Proposed solution: A mechanism proposes a “quid pro quo” mechanism requiring countries to share genome sequence information with WHO in exchange for:
      • 10% free diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.
      • 10% at not-for-profit prices.
    • Disagreement:
      • Developing countries: A robust PABS system, especially for low- and middle-income nations, is crucial for equitable access to medical countermeasures.
      • Developed countries & pharmaceutical industry: Unhappy with the proposed benefit-sharing terms.
  • Enforcement and Accountability:
    • Concern: The Agreement might be ineffective without strong enforcement mechanisms.
    • Example: Existing International Health Regulations (legally binding) failed to prevent issues during COVID-19 like:
      • Unjust travel/trade restrictions.
      • Hoarding of vaccines and medical supplies.
    • Uncertainties:
      • Whether negotiators will agree on a decision-making body (COP with secretariat).
      • Effectiveness of such a body.
  • Intellectual Property (IP) Waivers: A proposal requiring companies receiving public funding to waive or reduce IP royalties on their products is a sticking point.

We’re now on WhatsAppClick to Join

Looking Ahead

  • Negotiation Deadline: The deadline for this agreement is set for the 77th World Health Assembly in May 2024.
  • Challenges:
    • Reaching consensus, potentially leading to a watered-down agreement.
    • Wording around contentious issues like IP waivers might be weakened using phrases like “national circumstances” and “best endeavour”.
  • Importance of Agreement:
    • A critical step for rebuilding trust and international coordination.
    • Acknowledges the global nature of pandemic threats.
    • Failure to reach an agreement would be a setback.

Sharing is caring!

About the Author

I, Sakshi Gupta, am a content writer to empower students aiming for UPSC, PSC, and other competitive exams. My objective is to provide clear, concise, and informative content that caters to your exam preparation needs. I strive to make my content not only informative but also engaging, keeping you motivated throughout your journey!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *