G20 Has Power to Fund the Fight Against the Next Pandemic
Covid-19 has taught us many painful lessons. Through its G20 Presidency, Indonesia is providing vital leadership in this global effort to ensure a safer world for everyone, everywhere in the years ahead.
Covid-19 has taught us many painful lessons.
First, that the promotion of public health must be a constant global priority, not an issue we worry about only when a new disease threat shocks us into action. The deaths of millions due to Covid-19, and the suffering faced by so many more, compels us to do better.
Second, that no one is safe until everyone is safe. No matter how much we want to wish it away, Covid-19 remains a global threat, killing people needlessly, mainly the unvaccinated, and blocking economic recovery across sectors and countries alike.
The emergence of monkeypox in countries that have not seen it before is another reminder – if one were needed – of the constant threat of outbreaks of new diseases, or of old diseases in new places.
And third, that merely paying lip service to working together, as one global village, to protect and promote health is not good enough. Instead, due to this unparalleled health crisis, we need an unparalleled shift in how we collaborate to keep people healthy and safe.
This last point requires three things to succeed: sustained financing, agreed rules, and a stronger global health architecture for health emergency preparedness, response and resilience.
The deaths of millions due to Covid-19, and the suffering faced by so many more, compels us to do better.
On the financing front, I applaud Indonesia’s leadership, through its G20 Presidency, to make a priority of sustainable funding of pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, building on the headway made last year under Italy’s Presidency.
I saw this commitment up close this month when I attended the first G20 Health Ministerial meeting in Yogyakarta, held under the overall leadership of H.E. President Joko Widodo.
A key focus of Indonesia’s G20 leadership has been to make the world a safer place, and to develop concrete ways to make this a reality, including through sustained and adequate financing, particularly for low-income countries.
WHO, working with the World Bank, supports Indonesia’s proposal for the establishment of a Financial Intermediary Fund to help countries access needed funds, in a much more organized manner, to help build stronger systems to safeguard themselves and the world against the threat of pandemics.
The proposed Fund should be housed in the World Bank, with WHO playing a central technical role in guiding its investments for effective pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.
The need for predictability, however, does not extend only to financing.
Governments have launched a process to establish an agreed set of international “ground rules” to prevent a repeat of the inconsistent and disjointed collaboration we witnessed during the Covid-19 pandemic, from sharing of information and data, to sharing of PPE, vaccines, treatments and diagnostics.
To create such a set of rules, governments representing the 194 Member States of the World Health Organization have launched an unprecedented process to develop a legally binding international agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.
This country-led process is ongoing, and the ultimate form of any such pandemic accord will be decided by governments themselves. At the heart of this effort, though, is the goal of preventing a repeat of the Covid-19 pandemic through a global pact that would both protect the health of all people, while safeguarding each and every person’s freedoms from being trapped in the grip of a global health crisis.
Representatives from each of the six WHO regions have formed an Intergovernmental Negotiating Body to develop this accord, for consideration by the World Health Assembly in 2024.
The establishment of a Fund and agreed ground rules would be key pillars of a stronger global architecture for health emergency preparedness, response and resilience.
In response to a request from its Member States, WHO has developed a proposal for a more equitable, inclusive and coherent global architecture for health emergencies, which builds on more than 300 recommendations from the various reviews of the global response to the pandemic.
The pandemic accord would provide a vital overarching legal framework, under which we make 10 recommendations, in three key areas.
First, we need governance that is coherent, inclusive and accountable.
Second, we need stronger systems and tools to prevent, detect and respond rapidly to health emergencies.
And third, we need adequate and efficient financing, domestically and internationally, supported by initiatives like the Financial Intermediary Fund.
Underpinning these proposals, we need a stronger and sustainably financed WHO at the centre of the global health security architecture.
We are not starting from scratch. The launch of multiple initiatives in the past two and a half years has laid the groundwork for a safer world. The Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, supported by Indonesia and many other countries, has proven to be a platform that can spur research, development and distribution of vaccines, tests and treatments for Covid on a global scale. It can also be a model for producing technologies to fight other infectious diseases.
The WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin, the WHO BioHUB for safely sharing novel biological materials, and the mRNA Hub for developing and sharing technology for fighting Covid-19 and other diseases in the future are other platforms that have shown what is possible when countries and global partners – when shocked into action – come together to protect the health and welfare of the public.
The lesson we all must heed, however, is that we need to finish the work we have started, and deliver on the initiatives that governments have launched.
The lesson we all must heed, however, is that we need to finish the work we have started, and deliver on the initiatives that governments have launched. Only by creating a stronger, well funded and coordinated global health emergency architecture will we be able to prevent the next Disease X from ravaging the world in the same way that Covid has.
Through its G20 Presidency, Indonesia is providing vital leadership in this global effort to ensure a safer world for everyone, everywhere in the years ahead.
Tedros Adhanom,Ghebreyesus Director-General, World Health Organization