Countries At Odds Over How To Reignite Pandemic Agreement

Countries at odds over how to reignite pandemic agreement

Geneva, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 29th May, 2024) Countries aired stark differences Tuesday on where to go next in trying to strike a global agreement for handling future pandemics, after missing a deadline to finalise a deal.

While nations are keen to build on progress made towards an accord on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, fault lines emerged on charting the course to an eventual agreement.

Africa and the United States were notably far apart on how long the process should take, as countries took stock of the situation at the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva.

African nations spoke as one to say they wanted to seize the growing momentum and get the agreement finished in the coming months, while Washington urged countries to take their time to work out the best possible deal, suggesting the process could take up to two years.

Rattled by the devastation caused by Covid-19 -- which killed millions of people, shredded economies and crippled health systems -- countries have spent two years trying to reach binding commitments for tackling future pandemics.

But the negotiations ended last Friday without finalising a deal.

The deadline was this week's WHA, a gathering of the World Health Organization's 194 member states and its supreme decision-making body.

The assembly commissioned the drafting of a pandemic accord in December 2021.

- 'Let's finish this' -

Roland Driece of the Netherlands and Precious Matsoso of South Africa co-chaired the nine rounds of pandemic agreement talks.

On Tuesday, they delivered the latest draft to the assembly, showing 17 of its 34 articles fully approved by countries.

"Today we had hoped that we could say we're done, we're finishing this and we delivered on our mandate, but we are not there yet," Driece said.

"Let's finish this as soon as we can... because we owe that to all the people who suffered during the Covid pandemic."

South Africa's representative, speaking for 47 African countries, said the continent demanded equity in the agreement.

South Africa said that the talks must continue and that chapters already agreed would not be reopened to negotiation.

African countries want Driece and Matsoso's mandate to be extended "to finalise the pandemic agreement", and for the outcome to be submitted to a specially convened assembly session before the end of 2024.