The WHO member countries have agreed on a new preparedness framework for influenza pandemics. Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre commented, “This agreement is a victory for WHO and for global health diplomacy. It will strengthen global health security and international solidarity in the event of pandemics.”
The new framework will promote a more effective response and a more equitable distribution of antiviral medicines and vaccines, by giving priority to the countries where a pandemic starts and ensuring that developing countries have better access to medicines and vaccines.
“This is a broad partnership between governments, industry and civil society. Partnerships of this kind are vital for addressing the global health challenges of our time,” said Mr Støre.
The framework needs to be followed up with binding agreements on the exchange of viruses between all key actors (WHO, laboratories and industry). This will increase predictability and transparency in response to pandemics.
“As these cooperation agreements are being drawn up now, it will be possible to implement measures faster and more effectively if a new pandemic breaks out.
“The new WHO framework will ensure that information about viruses and the spread of disease will be available internationally. This is vital in order to ensure an effective global response. The risk posed by diseases like avian influenza (H5N1), which have a high death rate, highlights the importance of putting this framework into place,” said Mr Støre.
According to plan, the framework will be formally adopted at the World Health Assembly in May this year. Norway has given high priority to this work. Mexico and Norway have led the negotiations in a joint chairmanship between our Ambassadors to the UN in Geneva, Juan José Gomez-Camacho and Bente Angell-Hansen.