Health Emergencies Engulf WHO & its Priorities: A Wrap of WHA 75

Seldom has WHO been forced to take such a decisive political stand, during its existence for three-quarters of a century. It may have now set a precedent that will be difficult to walk away from, in the future. This week will likely be seen as a watershed moment for WHO, when scores of member states pushed through a politically significant resolution, albeit, one that may be limited in practical terms, condemning “in the strongest terms Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine, including attacks on health care facilities documented via the WHO’s Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care (SSA)”. The … Continue reading Health Emergencies Engulf WHO & its Priorities: A Wrap of WHA 75

Curtain-Raiser: WHA75; Tough negotiations on the WTO’s IP response to the pandemic

he US sets in motion process to amend the International Health Regulations; Developing countries try to restore balance in WGPR discussions Rules to govern health emergencies continue to dominate the policy discussions at WHO. As the 75th World Health Assembly gets underway in a few days, a crowded agenda awaits member states: from the re-election of the director-general, to the Ukrainian crisis, from formal efforts towards the amendments of International Health Regulations to increasing countries’ assessed contributions to boost sustainable financing of WHO. The first in-person meeting in two years will bring ministers, delegates and other attendees, to Geneva in … Continue reading Curtain-Raiser: WHA75; Tough negotiations on the WTO’s IP response to the pandemic

The World Health Assembly: The What, The Why and The How

This primer on the World Health Assembly has been produced in association with Global Health Now, an influential newsletter from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. This article was first published by Global Health Now here on May 13, 2022. It has been reproduced here with permission. What is the World Health Assembly? Each May, representatives from the 194 member states of the WHO gather in Geneva to discuss, argue, haggle, and sign off on the agency’s priorities and policies.  It’s called the World Health Assembly, and it’s the premier decision-making body of the WHO.   Country reps consult and set new … Continue reading The World Health Assembly: The What, The Why and The How

Member States Pull Back WHO from the Brink of Irrelevance, Reach Consensus to Pay More in Dues.

Barely hours before the proceedings came to a close, member states reached a consensus at the final meeting of the Working Group on Sustainable Financing, agreeing in principle for an increase in their contributions to WHO, diplomats told Geneva Health Files. The road to consensus on this proposal was not without bumps. And compromises had to be made. A consistent diplomatic effort, and public pressure might have contributed to the break in opposition by some Latin American countries to this much-debated proposal, sources say. As we had reported earlier, despite an overwhelming support for an increase in assessed contributions (ACs) from … Continue reading Member States Pull Back WHO from the Brink of Irrelevance, Reach Consensus to Pay More in Dues.

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Pfizer Allegedly Pressured UNICEF to Keep Secret, Pricing for Anti-Viral Treatment Paxlovid. UNICEF Yielded

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer allegedly pressured UNICEF to agree to non-disclosure requirements on pricing that would protect information on the prices of the company’s anti-viral treatment for COVID-19 Paxlovid, sources told Geneva Health Files. UNICEF, a procurement partner for the ACT Accelerator, recently concluded a supply agreement with Pfizer for up to 4 million courses of treatment. It is further learned that UNICEF reportedly took a unilateral decision to finalise the supply agreement with Pfizer without taking into account other partners of the therapeutics pillar of the ACT Accelerator (ACT A) including WHO, Global Fund, Unitaid. (Charitable Foundation Wellcome Trust is also a part … Continue reading Pfizer Allegedly Pressured UNICEF to Keep Secret, Pricing for Anti-Viral Treatment Paxlovid. UNICEF Yielded

Public Hearings on a Pandemic Agreement Open Floodgates of Interest; WTO DG To Take Compromise Text on TRIPS Waiver to the Wider Membership

Public Hearings on a Pandemic Agreement Open Floodgates of InterestAn impressive range of stakeholders made their interests and concerns known at the public hearings this week conducted by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body set up to establish a new pandemic agreement. From feisty civil society activists to hard-as-knuckles lobbyists; from social justice champions to focused medical products manufacturers; from professors at American universities to healthcare workers; from representatives of the families of the deceased to wildlife experts; from anesthesiologists to anthropologists; from human rights scholars to teachers’ unions. These disparate group made forceful, incisive statements on what the pandemic meant to … Continue reading Public Hearings on a Pandemic Agreement Open Floodgates of Interest; WTO DG To Take Compromise Text on TRIPS Waiver to the Wider Membership

Countries Find Chaos in Parallel Tracks on Drawing Up New Rules for Health Emergencies, Many Unprepared

It was never going to be easy. As countries get deeper into the processes for defining new rules for future health emergencies, many delegations in Geneva and in the capitals, are finding it difficult to keep up with multiple consultations, formal, informal and across different forums. “It is chaotic and disorganized”, one Geneva-based health diplomat told us this week. While this is just the beginning of long drawn negotiations, churn and disagreements are to be expected. But it is clear that the processes that guide these negotiations, will undoubtedly determine outcomes. Most immediately, that there are two competing priorities. One … Continue reading Countries Find Chaos in Parallel Tracks on Drawing Up New Rules for Health Emergencies, Many Unprepared

Curb Private Sector Participation In The Treaty-Making Process: Some Member States At WHO

[Update from the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body] In a significant move, some member states at WHO have expressed caution and have sought to limit the participation of the private sector in the negotiations for new rules on pandemic preparedness and response. Last week, the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) met at the resumed session of its first meeting on March 14-15. The INB was set up earlier this year, to work towards a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, following the Special Session of the World Health Assembly in November 2021. These efforts to limit … Continue reading Curb Private Sector Participation In The Treaty-Making Process: Some Member States At WHO

Game on at WHO: International Health Regulations Vs The Pandemic Treaty

We are pleased to bring you the first edition of Treaty Talks, a new series that will track negotiations around a potential pandemic treaty in the coming months (and years). This edition is a comprehensive analysis of the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body that took place last week. The launch of the negotiations for a new instrument to govern health emergencies marks a significant milestone for global health power brokers. Yet no sooner than these discussions kicked off last week (now a world away), the geopolitical and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, was lit by Russia. Inevitably, the flames from … Continue reading Game on at WHO: International Health Regulations Vs The Pandemic Treaty

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Guest Editorial: WHO under DG Tedros – The Last Five Years

At this point, global health policy-making needs predictability. When the WHO Executive Board nominated DG Tedros for a second term, last week, it should have assuaged anxious politicians, the scientific establishment, and the world’s people. The continuity of leadership at WHO, is helpful, given that WHO remains at the eye of the storm. Sources told us that of the 34 members of the EB, 31 members endorsed the nomination of Tedros (the rest were reportedly absent). Recall that Tedros was voted into office with a historic and an overwhelming majority in 2017. His mandate was absolute and powerful. Some would … Continue reading Guest Editorial: WHO under DG Tedros – The Last Five Years