WHO has been seeking public input to support the work of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) in drafting and negotiating an international instrument to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. In their first round of public hearings on 12-13 April 2022, they asked the question, “What substantive elements do you think should be included in a new international instrument on pandemic preparedness and response?” EPHA submitted the following written response:
The European Public Health Alliance welcomes this opportunity for engagement on the new international instrument on pandemic preparedness and response, which should reflect lessons learnt during COVID-19 while being forward-looking:
- Meaningful participation of civil society should be ensured during treaty negotiations and as part of the treaty.
- Transparency (in line with the World Health Assembly resolution WHA72.8 of 2019), and accountability must be guaranteed.
- Solidarity and equity, including equitable access to medical countermeasures should be enabled.
- The treaty should address antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a global health issue associated with approximately 4.95 million deaths globally per year, endangering many health interventions. The COVID-19 pandemic has already affected AMR, including antimicrobial use, infection and prevention control adherence, and health provision continuity for non-communicable diseases, with the full impact yet to be fully known. The treaty should ensure responsible access, education and use of medicines, and sharing of information and resources, so that healthcare systems are better equipped to manage cross border health threats. As AMR is already widely regarded as a ‘silent pandemic’, the Treaty should include specific AMR measures such as setting target and performance indicators and supporting countries to develop and implement national AMR action plans. Measures should be prevention focused, and utilise a One Health approach, as microbial diseases can be spread to humans at all stages of the supply chain, with animals more susceptible to infection spread when they are kept in a poor environment, on a poor diet, or under stress.