Health

No ‘pandemic treaty’ signed or ratified: Shangula

Summary

Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Kalumbi Shalumbi, said no representative of the Namibian government has signed or ratified any ‘pandemic treaty’ as it does not exist yet.Shangula made the statement in the National Assembly on Tuesday, follow…

Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Kalumbi Shalumbi, said no representative of the Namibian government has signed or ratified any 'pandemic treaty' as it does not exist yet.

Shangula made the statement in the National Assembly on Tuesday, following a petition submitted to the ministry on 01 June 2022 by a group that calls itself Concerned Citizens Group of Namibia, claiming that a 'pandemic treaty' emerged from, or was agreed to, at the 75th World Health Assembly (WHA) of the World Health Organisation (WHO) which took place from 22 May to 28 May 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The pandemic treaty is a proposed international agreement to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

The minister said a special session of the WHA was held in December 2021 to consider how pandemics can be addressed and dealt with in a more effective manner.

“On 01 December 2021, the special session of the WHA took a decision to establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response,” he said.

The International Health Regulations (IHR) of 2005, he added, is currently the only international instrument on health emergency preparedness and response.

Shangula explained that the COVID-19 pandemic identified clear gaps in preparedness and response during health emergencies that may not be fully addressed by the IHR.

Hence, there is a need for a new instrument (INB), which would address these gaps focusing on equity as a principle and as an outcome.

He said the INB developed modalities of engagement for relevant stakeholders to participate in the work of the INB to draft and negotiate a WHO convention or other international instruments on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

In line with these modalities, the ministry published a public notice on 10 June 2022 for relevant stakeholders to express interest to provide inputs to the INB, however the ministry never received correspondence from any interested stakeholder, he said.

“A working group on amendments to the IHR will be established to consider and discuss all proposals to amend the IHR of 2005. The deadline for submission of proposals is 30 September 2022,” Shangula added.

The minister further said the adaptation to any 'treaty' is subject to national law-making processes.

Source: The Namibian Press Agency