The 73rd World Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) came to a close on May 19, the first-ever virtual meeting between member states to evaluate policies implemented by different countries in the context of the Coronavirus. One group, including EU countries as well as the United Kingdom, India, Russia, Mexico and Chile, signed a Resolution backed by the WHO, calling for the intensification of efforts to control the pandemic, and for equitable access to and fair distribution of all essential health technologies and products to combat the virus. Access the text here.
The Resolution recognizes the need for all countries to have “timely and unimpeded access to quality, safe, effective and affordable diagnostic tests, therapies, medicines and vaccines and essential health technologies and their components, as well as well as the necessary equipment for the response to COVID-19.” In particular, it calls for “intensified cooperation and collaboration at all levels to contain, control and curb the pandemic.” The group of WHO signatory member countries are also proposing that, once available, the vaccine against Coronavirus be managed as a “global public good.”
In one of the highlights of the Resolution, the countries call for global priority to be given to “the universal, timely and equitable access to and fair distribution of all quality, safe, efficacious and affordable essential health technologies and products including their components and precursors required in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a global priority.” They underline the need to guarantee the “fair distribution” of supplies, and to ensure the “urgent removal of unjustified obstacles to access and distribution.”
The document calls for the provisions of relevant international treaties, such as the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the flexibilities recognized in the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS and Public Health Agreement, to be taken into consideration.
Finally, the countries called for sustainable funding to be provided to the WHO to ensure it can respond adequately to the public health needs created by COVID-19. The Assembly’s final Resolution containing the guidelines to be followed in the context of the pandemic has not yet been released, but its publication is expected in the next few days.