Coronavirus – Health and Governance Issues

What is WHO’s Pandemic Treaty?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Pandemic Treaty

Mains level: Pandemic management at global level

Members of the World Health Organisation (WHO) held the first round of negotiations towards the pandemic treaty on February 24, 2022.

What is the Pandemic Treaty?

  • In December 2021, the World Health Assembly agreed to start a global process to draft the pandemic treaty.
  • The need for an updated set of rules was felt after the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the shortcomings of global health systems.
  • The Health Assembly adopted a decision titled “The World Together” at its second special session since it was founded in 1948.
  • Under the decision, the health organization established an intergovernmental negotiating body (INB) to draft and negotiate the contents of the pandemic treaty in compliance with Article 19 of the WHO Constitution.

What is it likely to entail?

  • The pandemic treaty is expected to cover aspects like data sharing and genome sequencing of emerging viruses and equitable distribution of vaccines and drugs and related research.
  • Solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic have seen an inequitable distribution of vaccines so far, with poorer countries at the mercy of others to receive preventive medication.

Why need such treaty?

  • Most countries have followed the “me-first” approach which is not an effective way to deal with a global pandemic.
  • A widely-accepted theory points that the novel coronavirus may have jumped from animals to humans in a wildlife market of China.
  • Many nations want a ban on wildlife markets.

Issues in negotiations

  • While the EU wants the treaty to be legally binding, the U.S., Brazil and India have expressed reservations about the same.
  • The legal nature of the treaty is yet to be defined.

 What is Article 19 of the WHO Constitution?

  • Article 19 of the WHO Constitution gives the World Health Assembly the authority to adopt conventions or agreements on matters of health.
  • A two-third majority is needed to adopt such conventions or agreements.
  • The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control was set up under Article 19 and it came into force in 2005.


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