If the WGPR meeting was any indication, the coming year will witness a decisive fight between competing interests on safeguarding equity in global health.
This week countries tried to agree on a work plan for the next few months that will see the building blocks for new rules on governing health emergencies put into place. Therefore much is at stake on how to design this process and the resulting negotiations across different forums on a range of issues including incorporating meaningful equity considerations, the strengthening of the International Health Regulations, among others. This in essence is what was discussed at the Sixth Working Group on Strengthening WHO Preparedness and Response to Health Emergencies.
While there has not been any substantial change in countries’ positions on these issues, the way these discussions are being conducted and will be structured will ultimately impact the outcome on these crucial rules that could shape the international response to the next pandemic.
These discussions will likely dominate much of the global health agenda in 2022 even as the world continues to reel under the debilitating impact of COVID-19, now in its third year. WHO member states have to arrive at a consensus on the way forward that could see a combination of approaches to arrive at new rules to govern health emergencies, including discussions for a new international instrument, strengthening or amending existing rules and overall efforts to increase support for WHO.
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