International Health Regulations to be restructured under new World Health Organization 'instrument'

The amendments would give the WHO, namely Director General Tedros, sweeping powers to declare a global health threat.

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At the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Health Organization (WHO) had a lengthy agenda.

A topic of high priority was the discussion around proposed amendments to International Health Regulations (IHR).

The proposed changes are outlined in Document A75/18 titled Strengthening WHO preparedness for and response to health emergencies with the sub header Proposal for amendments to the International Health Regulations.

The amendments would give the WHO, namely Director General Tedros, sweeping powers to declare a global health threat without consultation by the member state. There was concerning language, too, around perceived versus actual threats of international concern. If adopted, these amendments would leave public health responses to the WHO and no longer at the request of the state party.

It appears to be managed by the Working Group on Pandemic Preparedness (WGPR), as evidenced by Tedros’ opening remarks where he essentially thanked the WGPR for their “establishment of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body for a new WHO accord on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.”

Viewing the presentations live, co-chair of the WGPR, Colin McIff, mentions the INB (Intergovernmental Negotiating Body) as a “new instrument.” The other co-chair Grata Werdaningtyas notes that the WGPR is being entirely restructured into the Working Group on International Health Regulations (WGIHR) whose talks will resume in November.

As reported by the Epoch Times, various African regions objected to the amendments forcing further discussions to be moved to November. It appears that Brazil was among those who threatened to leave the WHO entirely if the health amendments passed.

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  • By Tamara Ugolini

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