World Health Assembly agrees for global treaty to ‘strengthen pandemic prevention’

What is the news?

The World Health Assembly (WHA) took the historic decision to form a global treaty to “strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response” in its recent session.

The decision came at a time when the global COVID-19 situation has once again become wary with the detection of the Omicron variant last week, the fifth variant of concern.

Read more: What the Omicron variant means for India
About the WHA decision

The decision was arrived upon after five meetings and “findings from several bodies.” The decision was made in a special assembly, the second such since WHO’s inception in 1948.

The Assembly termed this move as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to better prepare the global healthcare system in the face of future pandemics or other health emergencies.

Who will be responsible for drafting the treaty?

An Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) will be responsible for drafting and negotiating a treaty under Article 19 of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Constitution.

Note: The launch of putting together this accord is the second such initiative taken under Article 19. The first initiative was the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which came into effect in 2005.

The INB will hold its first meeting on March 1, 2022, to decide on timelines and working ways.

The INB will also hold public hearings and “deliver a progress report to the 76th World Health Assembly in 2023, and submit its outcome for consideration by the 77th World Health Assembly in 2024.”

About the World Health Assembly and Article 19

It is a forum through which the World Health Organization (WHO) is governed by its 194 member states.

Article 19 of the WHO constitution mentions, “the Health Assembly shall have authority to adopt conventions or agreements with respect to any matter within the competence of the Organization”. A two-thirds vote of the Health Assembly shall be required for the adoption of such conventions or agreements.

Read here: World Health Assembly(WHA)

Source: This post is based on the article “World Health Assembly agrees for global treaty to ‘strengthen pandemic prevention’” published in DTE on 2nd Dec 2021.

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