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Strong push to implement changes to international health regulations this week

The EU calls for the adoption of the IHL amendments.

GENEVA – There is strong pressure from European countries, the US, New Zealand and other countries for the amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR) to be adopted by the World Health Assembly on Saturday.

The IHR is the only global regulation governing global outbreaks, but COVID-19 has exposed its weaknesses and there has been a two-year process to change it.

There is close agreement, with some outstanding issues, especially in terms of definitions, as shown in The reports on the IHL negotiations to the WHA by Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“My appeal here is: let us focus on the IHR so that we can achieve this success, because this already provides much better protection for the world,” said German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach.

This sentiment was echoed by the European Union (EU), which described progress on IHL amendments as “remarkable”.

“The adoption of these changes within the very short timeframe of just two years will send a very positive signal to the outside world about the ability of WHO and its members to take concrete action to improve the global health architecture,” the EU said.

“Such approval will also send a very positive signal for the future of the INB (Intergovernmental Negotiating Body) process. There are still some issues to be resolved. We call on all partners to redouble their efforts to complete our work and adopt the set of (IHL) amendments on June 1.”

However, there was intense discussion about the way forward for the INB process on a pandemic agreement, with sharp disagreement emerging at the WHA session on Tuesday afternoon – but finding agreement was difficult and the way forward was unclear at the time of publication. .

First, there were two resolutions in the room: one out of 47 African member states from the World Health Organization (WHO) and another from a group of countries countries that have often played a conciliatory role in the talks – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Norway and Pakistan

South Africa, on behalf of the African region, has proposed that negotiations on a pandemic agreement be concluded by the end of this year and submitted to a special WHA.

But other countries – notably the US and European countries – proposed a one-year extension to the talks.

At the time of publication, no clear agreement had been reached on the way forward regarding the IHL or the pandemic agreement processes. This story will be updated as decisions are made.

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