World unprepared for another pandemic as health treaty talks push on

The world is unprepared for another health crisis like COVID-19, a leading global health expert has warned.

The world is unprepared for another health crisis like COVID-19, a leading global health expert has warned. (Soe Zeya Tun, Reuters)


Save Story
Leer en español

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

LONDON — The world is unprepared for another health crisis like COVID-19, a leading global health expert has warned, as countries make a last push to agree a way forward for a pandemic treaty amid fears the political climate for an agreement could sour.

World Health Organization member states gathered in Geneva on Friday to work out how to continue negotiations about an accord after missing this month's deadline.

"We only hope that ... (in the) next few months, we don't have another pandemic that finds us in a world which is still unprepared for a major crisis," Muhammad Ali Pate, Nigeria's health minister and a board member of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, told Reuters.

A major sticking point in the treaty has been provisions for low and middle-income countries to have access to 20% of tests, treatments and vaccines developed to fight the pandemic, either at no-profit costs or donated.

Ali Pate said the figure was reasonable to avoid the scramble for life-saving products that saw African countries last in line during COVID.

While talks on the treaty are likely to continue for several months or even years, a parallel process to update an existing set of rules that govern international disease outbreaks are closer to an agreement, sources said, and could be signed off before the end of the WHO's annual meeting on Saturday.

Other negotiators and observers said there was a sense of urgency in the treaty talks, not least because of concerns that elections in a number of key countries this year could bring in governments who fear the treaty could threaten their sovereignty, which the WHO denies and a clause in the document guards against.

"This needs to be done now or else things are only going to get worse with things moving to the right," said one Western diplomat.

Most recent Health stories

Related topics

PoliticsWorldHealth
Emma Farge and Jennifer Rigby

    STAY IN THE KNOW

    Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the KSL.com Trending 5.
    By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    KSL Weather Forecast