What is the Pandemic Treaty?
- In December 2021, the World Health Assembly agreed to start a global process to draft the pandemic treaty.
- The Health Assembly adopted a decision titled “The World Together” at its second special session since it was founded in 1948.
- Under the decision, the health organization established an intergovernmental negotiating body (INB) to draft and negotiate the contents of the pandemic treaty in compliance with Article 19 of the WHO Constitution.
- The pandemic treaty is expected to cover aspects like data sharing and genome sequencing of emerging viruses and equitable distribution of vaccines and drugs and related research throughout the world.
- Solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic have seen an inequitable distribution of vaccines so far, with poorer countries at the mercy of others to receive preventive medication as Most countries have followed the “me-first” approach which is not an effective way to deal with a global pandemic.
- While the EU wants the treaty to be legally binding, the U.S., Brazil and India have expressed reservations about the same. The legal nature of the treaty is yet to be defined.
What is Article 19 of the WHO Constitution?
- Article 19 of the WHO Constitution gives the World Health Assembly the authority to adopt conventions or agreements on matters of health.
- A two-third majority is needed to adopt such conventions or agreements.
- The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control was set up under Article 19 and it came into force in 2005.
Need for Pandemic Treaty
- The need for an updated set of rules was felt after the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the shortcomings of global health systems.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the world with more than 437 million cases being globally reported so far and more than 5.9 million people have lost their lives.
- In India, over 34 million cases have been reported so far and Death toll stands at over five lakh.
Why in news?
- Members of the World Health Organization (WHO) held the first round of negotiations towards the pandemic treaty on February 24, 2022.
- The meeting was aimed at agreeing on ways of working and timelines for a “convention, agreement or other international instrument” to prevent further pandemics and to improve the preparedness and response in case of its occurrence.
- The second meeting, where the members are expected to discuss the progress on a working draft, is scheduled to be held by August 1, 2022.