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WHO Chief urges global countries to seal pandemic deal

WHO Chief urges global countries to seal pandemic deal

WHO Chief urges global countries to seal pandemic deal

WHO Chief urges global countries to seal pandemic deal

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  • WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urges countries to finalize a global agreement.
  • Ghebreyesus praised the negotiators’ dedication and commitment to pushing forward despite misinformation.
  • Despite the missed deadline, countries have expressed a commitment to continue pushing for an accord.
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On Monday, the World Health Organization chief urged countries to finalize a landmark global agreement on handling future pandemics after they missed a hard deadline. Scarred by COVID-19 — which killed millions, shredded economies, and crippled health systems — nations have spent two years attempting to forge binding commitments on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.

Ahead of this week’s World Health Assembly — the annual gathering of WHO’s 194 member states — negotiators failed to clinch a deal, missing the deadline for concluding the talks. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus opened the assembly on Monday, expressing confidence in securing an agreement.

“Of course, we all wish that we had been able to reach a consensus on the agreement in time for this health assembly and crossed the finish line,” he said.

“But I remain confident that you still will because where there is a will, there is a way.”

Tedros said the task before negotiators had been “immense, technically, legally, and politically,” and that they had been “operating on a very ambitious timeline.”

“You have demonstrated a clear commitment to reaching an agreement,” he said, adding that negotiators had “worked long days and nights,” closing meetings as late as 4:00 a.m.

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He hailed their dedication to push forward despite “a torrent of misinformation that was undermining your negotiations.”

Although they missed Friday’s deadline, countries have expressed a commitment to continue pushing for an accord. Scheduled negotiators will present the outcome of the talks to the assembly on Tuesday, which runs until June 1. The assembly will then assess the situation and decide on the next steps.

“I know that there remains among you a common will to get this done, so, there must always be a way,” Tedros said.

“Meaning the solution is in your hands,” he stressed.

Countries have also engaged in parallel talks to revise the International Health Regulations, which were first adopted in 1969 and constitute the existing international legally binding framework for responding to public health emergencies around the world.

Observers suggested that the proposed amendments to the IHR, which include adding more nuance to a system intended to alert countries to potential health emergencies of global concern, might have a better chance of adoption during this week’s assembly.

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