WHO Pandemic Preparedness Treaty Needs Palliative Care!

Categories: Featured and Policy.

In December 2021, at its second-ever special session, the World Health Assembly established an intergovernmental negotiating body (INB) to draft and negotiate a convention, agreement, or other international instrument under the constitution of the World Health Organization to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.

As a nonstate actor in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO), I have participated in INB consultations since its first open call for stakeholder inputs in 2022. IAHPC has consistently urged governments involved in INB negotiations to include palliative care language in any pandemic and preparedness response treaty. Although the words “palliative care” did appear in an early draft text, they were excised from the Zero Draft that member states began negotiating on February 27.

The IAHPC and our partner global, national, and regional organizations feel strongly that any WHO pandemic preparedness and response treaty must explicitly include palliative care. Failure to include it will result in palliative care services being sidelined and unfunded in policy preparations and implementation. 

Together with the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance, our advocacy team has performed a line-by-line analysis of the text of the Zero Draft under negotiation. We have suggested changes to the text, bolstered with references to language agreed upon by the United Nations (precedent). This “Advocacy Note” was prepared for use by others, as civil society organizations such as IAHPC now have a very limited, indirect role. INB negotiations are now in the hands of delegations appointed by the governments of all WHO member states: in other words, government representatives.

“Advocacy Note: Textual Suggestions for Negotiations on Zero Draft of the INB WHO CA+” was written to guide your government negotiators regarding how and where palliative care can be inserted in the text. It has garnered multiple endorsements.

We urge our members and supporters to ask their governments to consider our suggestions at the negotiating table. 

See the Advocacy Note, list of endorsements and invitation to endorse, plus a video of the IAHPC intervention at the INB4 hearing. You can also consult the INB web page for background information. Its February newsletter introduces the main member state players and gives some excellent background on the process.

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