Wemos calls on all national governments to seize the establishment of the Pandemic Accord as an opportunity to strengthen health systems worldwide. For greater resilience against pandemics, the accord must include provisions to realise a strong health workforce, equitable access to pharmaceutical products and adequate finance for health. In our call for a meaningful accord, we elaborate on our recommendations.
Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) are drafting a new instrument – currently called the ‘Pandemic Accord’ – to improve the global prevention, preparedness for and response to pandemics. The Covid-19 pandemic has painfully shown that health systems are not yet sufficiently nor equally equipped to effectively prevent and respond to global health emergencies. That is why Wemos urges WHO Member States to make strengthening health systems the core objective of the accord.
Strong health workforce
The world has learned the hard way that we cannot prevent or deal with a health crisis without health workers. A sufficient, paid, protected, trained and well-equipped health workforce is an essential building block of any resilient health system. The Pandemic Accord must identify expansion of the global health workforce as a top priority, provide firm guidance for WHO Member States to realise a strong health workforce and enable mobilisation of surge capacity.
Equitable access to pharmaceutical products
If a pandemic occurs, we need to speed up the development of key medical products and make these accessible to protect, treat and cure everyone, everywhere. To achieve this, the Pandemic Accord must ensure that governments take back control from profit-seeking companies. It must include provisions that ensure transparency on costs and prices, and compel the sharing of intellectual property, know-how and technology to increase global supply and self-reliance of low- and middle-income countries. By attaching conditions to public funding of medical innovations, governments can safeguard the public interest of health.
None of this is possible without more and better finance for health. Global action is needed to tackle systemic problems limiting public investments in health, including debt, tax injustice and illicit financial flows. Additional funding is needed to cope with pandemic risks. Funding mechanisms must break with the donor-recipient approach, be inclusive and focus on prevention and all that it takes – not only containment of outbreaks, but also environmental and animal health, and surveillance and monitoring. Countries should contribute financially according to ability and benefit according to need.
Photo by: James Oatway, IMF