The COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtably one of the greatest global challenges in recent history.
It has revealed serious weaknesses in our preparedness, prevention, and response to health emergencies. It has tested our ability to act as a global community. And has revealed overwhelming inequities in today’s world. It will now also test our ability to learn from our actions, and to move forward.
Our response to COVID-19, and the resulting economic crisis, has been ad-hoc. We must transform this into sustainable solutions for the long term.
It’s my honour today, on behalf of the Core Group of the Global Health and Foreign Policy Initiative: Brazil, France, Indonesia, Norway, Senegal, South Africa, and Thailand, to introduce the draft resolution entitled “Elevating pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response to the highest level of political leadership”.
Allow me to highlight some of the main elements of this resolution:
First, it sends a clear message that we need to increase international collaboration, and coordination, on pandemic preparedness and response at the highest political level. We should do this by strengthening our implementation of the International Health Regulations. The sole legally binding instrument that defines countries’ rights, and obligations, to report public health events and emergencies that have the potential to cross borders.
In addition, we should support ongoing discussions in WHO towards developing a convention, agreement, or other international instrument, so that the world will be better prepared, and better able to respond to a new pandemic.
Second, the resolution calls on Member States to prioritise pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response in their own national agendas. To build resilient health systems, and to prioritise primary health care- ensuring a whole-of-government, and whole-of-society approach.
Third, the resolution calls for more sustainable financing for pandemic preparedness and response. It underlines the importance of adequate, and predictable, financing of the WHO, to enable it to fulfill its core functions. Health security is a global public good, and it is our shared responsibility to ensure that we make the necessary investment.
Fourth, the resolution places an emphasis on access, including by underscoring the need to support the ACT Accelerator’s efforts to speed up the: development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines, as well as recognising the importance of a skilled health workforce, which is crucial to ensure that no one is left behind.
And fifth, let’s not forget that diseases of zoonotic origin are among the most likely sources of future pandemics. Yet there is currently no global agreement for how to monitor, manage or respond to these threats. The resolution therefore also calls on relevant institutions to develop options - for the consideration by their governing bodies - to establish a common strategy, including a joint workplan on One Health, to better address disease outbreaks.
To conclude, President,
No country can control a pandemic alone. We all depend on multilateral and multi-sectorial global collaboration.
I would therefore also like to express my sincere gratitude to all delegations for the support, engagement, and flexibility you have shown throughout this process. And I would like to extend a special thanks to our dear colleagues from Senegal for allowing us to finalise this resolution in the resumed session of the General Assembly while they are formally chairing the Global Health and Foreign Policy Initiative.