4 things countries need to be aware of as they attend the World Health Assembly – POLITICO

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A key meeting in the global health calendar began on Sunday, as representatives from health ministries around the world gathered in Geneva to make decisions on health policy.

While much of the diplomatic activity will take place in receptions and closed meetings, the first fully in-person World Health Assembly in two years is expected to pass several resolutions that will begin to shape how the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHA is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization’s 194 members.

But this will not be a defining moment in WHO’s history. Many of the corresponding decisions, such as those on the pandemic treaty and changes to the International Health Regulations, will only happen years later. Matters that may even be agreed upon at the General Assembly, such as WHO’s future budget and timetable for budget increases, Extend years into the future.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, co-chair of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness, said her message to the health minister at the assembly would be “don’t give up on the fight against COVID-19”. Speaking at the launch of the panel’s report, Clark said that if the next pandemic continues at the current pace, it will take years for the world to prepare for the next one, saying the General Assembly needs to “look at all necessary reforms. The big picture, because of one.”

With 73 long agendas, it is one of the most compact in the organization’s history, but POLITICO will walk you through the four most important ones watch:

Preparing for the next pandemic

Right-wing media experts claim that the World Health Assembly is the moment for the WHO to undertake a huge power grab to give it full power over national sovereignty. The reality is that the most controversial proposal — on a pandemic treaty — is not even on the agenda of the General Assembly.

What was supposed to be considered was the U.S. proposed amendment to the International Health Regulations, a legally binding law that sets out how countries should respond to health threats. The broad U.S. proposal recommends giving the WHO greater powers to share information from countries experiencing events that could threaten public health.But now the decision on this set to delayStates have agreed on a watered-down proposal for procedural decisions on when changes to regulations take effect.

The more substantive documents that countries will consider are Report From the Working Group on Strengthening WHO’s Preparedness and Response to Health Emergencies. This week, the group is still discussing the final version of the report and what it wants to do at the assembly. Any decisions in the report may focus on the IHR revision process.

“We need to reset the sense of business that is thriving as usual,” said Eloise Todd, co-founder of the Pandemic Action Network. “We want these connections and conversations to be [at the WHA] Can build on the progress made at the Global Covid Summit and spark more general thinking on how we can restart this agenda so that things like WHO financing, WHO reform, IHR etc don’t Was pushed to the list, but was actually directed to the top. “


Russia’s war against Ukraine is likely to be on the agenda.A sort of draft resolution Promoted by Ukraine and seen by POLITICO as “the strongest condemnation of the Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine, including attacks on medical facilities,” and called on Russia to stop these attacks and protect medical personnel.

Importantly, it states that Russia’s “aggression against Ukraine constitutes a special case”. This is a requirement of the WHO constitution that the World Health Assembly may suspend voting privileges and services to which a country is entitled. The document raises the possibility of such action against Russia if Russia continues to negatively affect Ukrainian healthcare.

If the resolution is proposed, a vote of members may be required.

Fund the World Health Organization

What haunts the WHO are issues that are constantly being discussed but never resolved – by anyone’s standards, the WHO has very little core funding and often puts the organization at a disadvantage. Finally, there seems to be a real change here, but as usual, it won’t happen anytime soon.

Sustainable Finance Working Group suggested By 2030-2031, countries’ assessed contributions are increased to 50% of the basic budget. This means that WHO will have more funding from regular assessed contributions from countries, rather than earmarked contributions.

Those signs looked promising from Friday’s meeting of G7 health ministers. “WHO, which plays an important coordinating role in global health, will be financially strengthened. The G7 wants to increase its mandatory contributions by 50%,” the German health ministry, which hosted the meeting, said in a statement. so that WHO can better exercise its leadership. ”

Clinical Trials

A proposal for clinical trials – originally from the UK and now co-sponsored by Argentina – will also be on the agenda. As with the report on preparedness for health emergencies, the discussion has taken hold.this draft resolution Call on countries to harmonize research priorities and avoid duplication of trials. Some of the measures required include ensuring a mechanism for reporting trial results, including negative results; sharing pre-publication results with regulators, and mandatory registration of clinical trials in registries.

Louis Westendarp contributed reporting.

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