- April 14, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Section: Internal Organization
Context- Experts in India and across the globe have made various suggestions as to what the first-ever pandemic treaty in the world should consist of, even as the World Health Organization (WHO) started the first round of public hearings for it April 12, 2022.
- The first round of public hearings for the treaty is currently underway though it will be drafted only by 2024.
- It is 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.
What are International Health Regulations?
While disease outbreaks and other acute public health risks are often unpredictable and require a range of responses, the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) provide an overarching legal framework that defines countries’ rights and obligations in handling public health events and emergencies that have the potential to cross borders.
The IHR are an instrument of international law that is legally-binding on 196 countries, including the 194 WHO Member States. The IHR grew out of the response to deadly epidemics that once overran Europe. They create rights and obligations for countries, including the requirement to report public health events. The Regulations also outline the criteria to determine whether or not a particular event constitutes a “public health emergency of international concern”.
At the same time, the IHR require countries to designate a National IHR Focal Point for communications with WHO, to establish and maintain core capacities for surveillance and response, including at designated points of entry. Additional provisions address the areas of international travel and transport such as the health documents required for international traffic.
Finally, the IHR introduce important safeguards to protect the rights of travellers and other persons in relation to the treatment of personal data, informed consent and non-discrimination in the application of health measures under the Regulations.
What is the pandemic treaty?
- In December 2021, 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 organisation 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.
Need of pandemic Treaty:
- 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.
- Most countries have followed the “me-first” approach which is not an effective way to deal with a global pandemic.