WHO talks on pandemic preparedness treaty end without agreement

Geneva, Switzerland - The 194 member countries of the World Health Organization (WHO) have failed to achieve a breakthrough on a long-sought pandemic preparedness treaty.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus shared a short statement after member states failed to reach an agreement on a pandemic preparedness treaty.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus shared a short statement after member states failed to reach an agreement on a pandemic preparedness treaty.  © Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

The latest round of negotiations began nearly two weeks ago in Geneva and were described as the UN health agency's final push to forge an agreement on a draft text. The next steps are unclear.

The goal was to have the so-called "pandemic treaty" adopted at this year's World Health Assembly, which is the WHO's supreme decision-making body. The meeting is due to be held starting at the end of May.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, WHO members called for a robust accord aimed at ensuring countries are better equipped to handle the next catastrophic outbreak and have the global response be less chaotic.

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But, after two years of talks, the member states were ultimately unable to agree on a common text by the Friday deadline, said diplomats. They added there was little hope of any major headway being made before the assembly opens on May 27.

One of the most controversial issues has been whether and how pharmaceutical companies should be obliged to share expertise and make a portion of their products available to less affluent countries.

"I welcome the determination that all countries have shown to continue their work and fulfill the mission on which they embarked," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a brief statement.

Cover photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

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