Africa: Virtual UN Dialogue On Pandemic Preparedness and Response Architecture


Speech by WHO Director-General - Thank you, Ambassador.

I've been listening carefully to everybody over the past couple of hours. I think we all agree on what many of the problems are:

Weak national and global capacity; weaknesses in timely sharing of data and pathogens; the lack of adequate financing; inequitable distribution of medical countermeasures; and a deficit in global solidarity and cooperation.

So let me leave you with a few thoughts on the way forward on each of these issues.

First, on timely sharing of data and pathogens, there is a clear need for an enhanced global early warning system, based on a One Health approach, and a globally-agreed system for sharing pathogen materials and clinical samples.

Second, on financing, I believe the most efficient way to marshal resources for pandemic preparedness is to leverage the enormous power of the IMF, World Bank and regional development banks, and their existing links with national treasuries.

This would require simplifying the processes for mobilizing domestic and international funds for pandemic preparedness and response.

Third, on medical countermeasures, we need to build a global end -to-end health emergency supply chain, from research and innovation to manufacturing and in-country delivery;

And fourth, to address the global deficit in accountability and cooperation, as you aware many countries are now coalescing behind the idea of an international treaty on pandemic preparedness and response, to drive the implementation of the International Health Regulations, and to provide a framework for international cooperation and solidarity;

A treaty rooted in a strengthened, empowered and sustainably resourced WHO, with its unique global convening power and mandate.

Even as we wait for the recommendations of the various reviews and platforms like this, the guidance from our Member States is to move ahead with several of these priorities, including the BioHub, an enhanced early warning system, the ACT Accelerator, the Universal Health and Preparedness Review and more.

The pandemic has driven home a fundamental truth: that health is a human right, not a luxury for the few, and the foundation of national development.

Just a few months before the pandemic began, at the UN General Assembly in September 2019, world leaders converged to endorse the political declaration on universal health coverage.

The pandemic has only demonstrated why that commitment is so important, and why investments in resilient health systems, built on strong primary health care, are the best investment in global health security.

It will take bold commitments to prevent the next pandemic.

But let's not forget the bold commitments that are needed right now to bring the current pandemic under control.

The principle is the same: we need enhanced sharing;

Enhanced sharing of financial resources to fully fund the ACT Accelerator;

Enhanced sharing of doses and vaccine production capacity, now;

And enhanced sharing of technology, know-how and intellectual property to rapidly and massively scale up vaccine production.

If we cannot make the bold commitments to stop this pandemic, what hope can the world have that we will make the bold commitments needed to stop the next one?

So thank you once again, Ambassador, we very much appreciate the leadership of the United States. I received President Biden's letter on his first day, and I spoke to Vice-President Harris the next day and Tony Fauci addressed our board.

So even while we're waiting for the recommendations of the IPPR, the IHR Review Committee and other mechanisms, and platforms like this one, we're already implementing some initiatives because our Member States are keen on that.

WHO is a learning organization; for us change is a constant, and we will continue to listen and learn.

Thank you once again.

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