For Immediate Release
December 1, 2021
U.S. Statement on World Health Assembly Special Session
The United States is pleased to join World Health Organization (WHO) Member States today in cosponsoring a historic decision at a Special Session of the World Health Assembly that will launch negotiations on a new international health instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. This momentous step represents our collective responsibility to work together to advance health security and to make the global health system stronger and more responsive. We look forward to broad and deep negotiations using a whole-of-society and whole-of-government approach that will strengthen the international legal framework for public health/pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response and enable us to address issues of equity, accountability, and multisectoral collaboration evident in the COVID-19 pandemic. We know it will take all of us working together across governments, private sector, philanthropy, academia, and civil society to make rapid progress towards a long-term solution for these complex problems.
Today the World Health Assembly decided to establish a new intergovernmental negotiating body open to all WHO Member States to embark early next year on the essential task of developing the substantive elements of the new instrument and ensuring coherence with the existing International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR). These negotiations will form the basis for such a solution, and the United States looks forward to continuing to serve as a leader in building consensus in this new and important forum.
At the same time, we urge all countries to redouble their efforts to vaccinate the world and end the pandemic. We also invite others to join in implementing other vital recommendations from world’s experts, including by convening the newly formed G20 Finance-Health Task Force, establishing a Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) for health security and pandemic preparedness at the World Bank, reaching multifaceted outcomes on trade and health issues at the World Trade Organization (WTO), and taking next steps to stand up additional political leadership, such as a Global Health Threats Council.
We still have work to do within the WHO Working Group on Strengthening WHO Preparedness and Response (WGPR) to assess over 200 recommendations by the three independent panels and Member States and propose actions at the next World Health Assembly in May 2022. Therefore, in parallel to the negotiations on a pandemic instrument, the United States commits to work with Member States at the WHO on targeted amendments to the IHR to improve implementation and compliance on key issues such as early warning alerts, timely information sharing, and rapid risk assessments. Likewise, we will continue to pursue initiatives to strengthen the governance, transparency, and capacity of the WHO to modernize the organization and ensure it is fit for purpose.
As the longstanding largest contributor to global health and health security, the U.S. commitment to pandemic preparedness and response is strong and enduring. The world can count on the United States to continue delivering assistance and taking concrete actions to end the COVID-19 pandemic and build back better at home and abroad.