It represents a first precedent…and the World Health Organization forms a negotiating body to formulate its terms
The negotiations are complicated because they involve multiple parties..The secret talks were like a “battle.”
Epidemiologists: The world needs an agreement that expands its umbrella to include the most dangerous diseases, and is not limited to epidemics
The position of the American delegation came as a surprise and was a supportive element of the agreement
Attempting to impose sanctions on countries that refuse to comply with seemingly unrealistic terms
The future of the agreement depends on the details contained in its text regarding its provisions and how to activate them
Preparedness for pandemics and epidemic disasters is gaining global attention, as are various other threats such as climate change, limiting nuclear proliferation and rogue states. There is a danger emerging from behind the natural terrain. For nearly two years, the world has been in a unipolar orbit, the undisputed Corona virus.
The Corona virus, which exhausted the world and drained its resources, and led the major powers to their knees, is uniting the world to confront it with a precedent that is the first of its kind represented in an international agreement to confront epidemics, amid a state of global refusal to return to square one following the spread of the new mutant “Omicron”, which is A move, despite the momentum it received, some global health experts are skeptical about its feasibility and seriousness.
Because the spread of the Corona epidemic represents an exceptional precedent, it was necessary to develop exceptional mechanisms that are consistent with its nature, which did not leave a spot in the world that did not have a lookout. In less than two years, more than 240 million people were infected, and more than 5 million people were killed, of course not. Someone wants to repeat this extended drama, but unfortunately there is a consensus among epidemiologists, that Corona is not the end, so it is inevitable to seize the opportunity to establish global rules for preparation, to confront epidemics and a rapid response to protect present and future generations from facing a similar global crisis, and not letting the moment slip away. From world leaders like water between fingers, by crystallizing a new global system to constantly monitor virus strains and setting an unprecedented agreement to ensure the sharing of their data, in addition to strengthening preparedness capabilities at the global level, at the beginning of last month, the member states of the World Health Organization agreed to start work on A new agreement, which defines how to deal with the next global epidemic, and the countries adopted a decision in a special meeting in Geneva, to launch the process that is expected to result in a new agreement on epidemics, after difficult labor and negotiations over the epidemic. Three consecutive days continued, with the meeting of the World Health Assembly – the decision-making body of the World Health Organization – where it witnessed an unprecedented special session on how to deal with the next pandemic, and it was agreed to establish an international negotiating body to draft and negotiate an agreement on global health, preparedness and response to epidemics, and a set Timetable for a final outcome to be considered by 2024.
ceiling of ambitions
That move was welcomed by proponents of engineering a global system more appropriate to respond to epidemics, with fair distribution of medical supply chains. In the agreement, the ceiling of ambitions is not commensurate with the legal framework and the issues being discussed, which may constitute an obstacle to continuing in this field, which is a very difficult matter.”
And according to what was reported by the Washington Post, citing the opinions of epidemiologists, we need a more spacious agreement that extends its umbrella to cover the most dangerous diseases and is not limited to epidemics. The West wants it to be a kind of self-centeredness, “The failures were successive and catastrophic, And we discovered that we live in the shadow of a world suffering from refraction, and this is the ideal moment, to try to come up with a formula or some mechanism to deal with the basic problems,” said Stephen Morrison, director of health policies at the Center for Strategic and Global Studies in Washington.
The law is not enough
But on the other hand, there is a camp that rejects or doubts the feasibility of this step, and believes that it is useless. Can the countries of the world accept negotiating mandatory global rules? And how willing are they to put money on the table? Any serious negotiations in this regard will inevitably address the most sensitive and controversial issues of epidemics: the unfair distribution of vaccines and other health care requirements, and the investigation of the origin of epidemics!
Do we need an international agreement to confront epidemics? The answer, according to some, is categorically no, as stated by Esperanz Martins, which is a very dangerous statement, as it derives its importance from the high position that its owner occupies as she is responsible for managing the Corona crisis at the International Committee of the Red Cross, and she said, “I do not think we need more Legislative and legal frameworks, there are already many mechanisms that suffice to move effectively.” With various medical products during emergencies or health disasters, the other framework is represented in the International Health Regulations known as “IHR” issued by the World Health Organization with the aim of achieving global health security, and rather the international community finds effective channels to reform the existing legal frameworks, To achieve the greatest global benefit, instead of wasting time, effort and money searching for a new formula, and the need for civil society institutions to line up behind governments to prevent the efforts to reach a compromise. To an international agreement to confront epidemics, a very important element that many did not touch upon, but it was drawn to our attention by Alain Malekke – Executive Director of the Network of Ethical and Legal Issues for HIV in Kenya – and in the event that serious negotiations are launched on the formulation of an international agreement to confront pandemics, society must be Civilians are an active party in it of various sects, including academics, human rights experts and researchers. We are also facing a very important economic issue. Funding and investment should not be limited to the vaccine sector, but extend to the Public Health Department.
Ambiguity still shrouds the international position on this agreement, as the newspaper “Washington Post” indicated in a report entitled “What is behind the efforts of the World Health Organization for the Epidemic Convention? He pointed out that despite the general consensus that the agreement proposal enjoyed, the secret talks were more like a “battle” and witnessed lengthy debates about the smallest details, such as vocabulary and punctuation!
The newspaper pointed out the shift in the American position, as the United States of America has always opposed such endeavors, but the American delegation threw its weight, and was a supportive element for it, which came as a surprise, but this agreement still has a time space extending until 2024, which clears the field. In front of the possibilities of changing the American position, if a new American administration comes, and it should be noted that the European Union was the driving locomotive for these moves, and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel played a prominent role in this regard, and one of her most prominent statements was “Viruses do not recognize national borders,” how The way to motivate the countries of the world to abide by the terms of that agreement? This is the challenge facing the signatories to that agreement. Perhaps there is a package of incentive measures, such as obtaining grants to announce cases and numbers with credibility or to manage their responses to the crisis, which seems convincing regarding the lower-income countries, but what about the rich countries? Are there more effective options than the carrot and stick strategy? Attempting to impose sanctions on countries that refuse to comply with the terms of the agreement seems unrealistic and rather a kind of political absurdity, and it may push some countries to hide or cover up the outbreak of some diseases with them, in order to avoid falling under the sanctions and following the policy of ostriches. For this reason, some countries prefer alternatives other than the agreement. , such as a protocol or declaration of principles for global health, as some experts fear that these efforts represent plowing at sea and a waste of time and money. Adhere to its texts, and others may refuse to acknowledge it at all.
Shari Moon, a researcher at the Center for Global Studies and Development in Geneva, believes that the best way to persuade rich countries to equitably distribute vaccines and other necessary health care during emergency health crises is to link them to data sharing, and she and other epidemiologists cited the framework for preparedness for the influenza pandemic in 2011. As an inspiring model for today’s events, she said, “It is a very difficult matter, but it is worth trying. It is the dilemma that the world has not succeeded in resolving at the global level. The negotiations are complex because they include multiple parties such as governments and pharmaceutical companies, but the moment is ripe for removing the roots of the crisis. Without this, the world will not be prepared to deal with the next pandemic.”
Indonesia suspended the sharing of influenza virus samples with foreign laboratories in December of 2006, for fear that they would be used by international pharmaceutical companies to develop expensive drugs that would be difficult for developing countries to provide to their people. The re-emergence of a highly pathogenic influenza virus in 2004 with the potential to lead to a pandemic prompted global discussions about access to pandemic vaccines in developing countries, and some countries affected by large numbers of human infections expressed concern about sharing virus samples with the network. Knowing that in the event of a pandemic it may not be able to obtain vaccines made using information and materials derived from those samples, to promote data-sharing on influenza viruses potentially leading to a human pandemic, and to increase access to vaccines for developing countries other critical pandemic response supplies; The Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework was established in 2011 by 194 Member States of the World Health Organization.
The importance of this framework agreement was to oblige vaccine manufacturers to give the World Health Organization about 10% of the production of their anti-pandemic vaccines in the future, so that they can be distributed to countries in need, when they occur. “By working with industry partners, we can strengthen global preparedness capabilities in countries where those capacities are weak.” The Global Influenza Surveillance and Response Network is one of the oldest and most prominent examples of international cooperation in public health, launched in 1952 by the WHO. Global Influenza Surveillance with 26 collaborating laboratories worldwide, as a model for adopting a multisectoral approach.
The most important question remains, what are the chances of that agreement or the entity supposed to have the authority to hold countries accountable? This legal aspect was highlighted by Alexander Phelan – a lawyer specializing in global health, at Georgetown University in Washington – saying: “Many heads of state and government have ignored the recommendations of the World Health Organization during the Corona pandemic, whose repercussions are still interacting on the global scene, and no one had the power of legal accountability towards them; This necessitated the call for an agreement binding on all countries, and this was evident during the talks on the international agreement to confront epidemics, where the countries most insistent on defending their sovereignty tended to use the language of a discourse that reflects this trend, such as words such as understandings, settlement, harmonization and international agreement, which are words It bears many facets “from the colonial perspective that dominates the approach to addressing epidemic pandemics, pointed out by Kelly Lee – a researcher in global health policies at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada – as it stated, “The future of this agreement depends on what it contains of special details, what are the binding clauses” And how to activate it? The rich countries of the world often tend to ask other peoples of the world to collect information about cases of infection and the genes of viruses and disease-causing factors, and to announce the results with the utmost transparency, based on a historically extended belief that the birthplace of epidemics resides in poor countries, and the irony is that the same We find that countries bear the banner of calling for the equitable distribution of vaccines, and the provision of adequate health care, as the headquarters of the most important pharmaceutical companies, and in fact, they are merely endeavors aimed at protecting the patent for the purposes of economic benefit only!”
First of all, in order for the international convention to confront epidemics to succeed, experts monitor a number of recommendations centered on reformulating the global perspective to address epidemics, perhaps the most important of which are:
First: Securing individuals, not national borders, must take center stage in the priorities of the global health agenda, and establish the concept of “health for all,” as expressed by the leaders of 25 countries on March 30th. Securing the borders on the health of individuals, so as not to depart from the spirit of the Convention.
Second: The concept of “global health security” calls for multilateral, not unilateral, reaction policies, thus promoting interdependence between countries. The rapid spread of coronavirus mutants has proven foolish and immoral to put the national interest above considerations of global action, unlike what is the case with security strategies. National, the concept of common interests should be at the forefront of emergency public health plans, or in other words the truism “no one is safe unless everyone is safe.”
Third: The institutional arrangements for global health security must be based on basic human rights principles, such as providing global channels and chains for everyone to enjoy the necessary health care.
Fourth: The perspective of the global health system needs to be liberated from the colonial view of the spread of epidemics, and that they spread from the poor countries of the south, to threaten the health and safety of the world’s most affluent peoples! The geographical nature of the Corona virus prompts us to rethink the standards governing the work of the institutions entrusted with responding to pandemics if they spread. The fragility and decline of its health system, such as Bhutan and Laos in Southeast Asia, recorded only 19 deaths, while the United States of America ranked first in the world, which is ironic.
Finally, reaching a global agreement to confront pandemics is very important, but the most important thing is to respect it and comply with its texts, otherwise it will be just a drawing on the water.