AHF spotlights waning WHO Pandemic Agreement


MASERU – The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has expressed concerns over the weakening of the WHO Pandemic Agreement and its lack of accountability during negotiations. The foundation urges Lesotho, as a WHO member state, to lobby for the inclusion of their concerns and to delay signing the agreement until critical points are reconsidered and reinstated in the existing articles.

The pandemic agreement is a potential international treaty currently being negotiated by 194 member states of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The agreement aims to address weaknesses in capacities and the lack of international cooperation that emerged during the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to AHF, the latest version of the agreement is filled with empty promises and lacks the power needed to ensure equitable access to health resources during pandemics.

AHF country programme manager, ’Mapaballo ’Mile, criticised developed countries for prioritising drug companies over universal healthcare access during pandemics.

She also noted that the agreement only guarantees 20 percent of the needed health products during a pandemic, leaving the rest subject to competition and scarcity.

’Mile emphasised the need for strong regulations to ensure countries adhere to the agreement and prepare adequately for future pandemics.

“There should be an independent body to ensure compliance with the agreement and to report on countries’ actions,” she added.

She also highlighted the importance of involving civil society groups, such as charities and community organisations, in ensuring the agreement is fair and effective.

For civil society organisations to participate meaningfully in the pandemic agreement, their roles and contributions must be explicitly stipulated.

The formal negotiation process, known as the International Negotiating Body (INB), was launched in 2021 and has been extended for another year to ensure practicality.

The new agreement aims to drive a more equitable global response, safeguard national health systems, and enhance cooperation among member states during pandemics.

COVID-19 demonstrated that no single government or institution can tackle future pandemics alone.

In a world where infectious diseases are on the rise and viruses travel across borders, enhanced preparedness and resilience against global health threats are crucial.

WHO member countries are working together on this new global instrument to better protect people, communities, and countries from future pandemics.

The document aims to improve prevention, preparedness, and response at a global level.

AHF’s “Save Our Society” campaign addresses the discrepancies within the pandemic agreement.

As a member of the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN), AHF held discussions on the WHO Pandemic Agreement to improve global prevention, preparedness, and response to future pandemics.

These discussions were held in collaboration with CSOs within the health, education, and social development commission of LCN under the “Save Our Society” campaign.

Mokhothu Makhalanyane, chairperson of the social cluster portfolio committee, stressed the need for a peer-to-peer workforce to improve health outcomes for universal health coverage.

He said Africa must combine its resources to address pandemics effectively, adding: “We cannot rely on dealing with pandemics in isolation; we must join forces.”

In 2021, WHO member countries agreed to amend the International Health Regulations of 2005 by drafting a pandemic agreement that would enhance preparedness and prevention of future pandemics at a global level.