“Global multilateralism did not work during the Covid-19 crisis”


International alliances, put in place to respond to a global health crisis, have failed to play their part in containing the Covid-19 pandemic, health experts have said.


Thus, they said there is an urgent need to establish a system of governance in which the international community can cooperate to fight against a global pandemic.


Peck Kyong-ran, commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KCDA), called for an environment where countries can share information early to respond quickly to the initial stage of a pandemic. (Credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs YouTube channel)


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the Global Emerging Security Forum 2022 in Seoul. He opened a session on Wednesday on “Lessons from the pandemic and prospects for a global treaty on the pandemic”.


During the discussion, panelists pointed out that international organizations had not functioned properly during the pandemic.


Peck Kyong-ran, the commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KCDA), said there were certain limitations in the response to the pandemic, such as the inability to predict the possibility of a pandemic in the initial stage of viral infections. She said the response also failed to allocate resources such as masks, test kits, vaccines and treatment across the world.


“The lack of governance that could encompass government and private companies has made it difficult for individual countries to make efforts to ensure capacity to jointly respond to Covid-19,” Peck said. “There was a limitation to manage Covid-19 without the global collaboration to verify and discuss the response situation.”


Another expert said global alliances have not used their instruments effectively during the pandemic.


Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, acting director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the first lesson learned during the pandemic was that when there was a global crisis, “Africa was literally alone”.


“Global multilateralism does not work well in times of crisis. All the multilateral instruments put in place to deal with emergencies like Covid19 have systematically failed on the African continent,” Ouma said.


He cited as an example the latest WTO decision to partially relax the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on vaccines.


“The WTO Council passed a resolution that fails to address why TRIPS flexibilities were negotiated over many painful years,” he said.


The WHO is preparing a “pandemic treaty”; Experts call for active private sector participation


Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, acting director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the private sector should be actively involved in developing a treaty on the pandemic.  (Credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs YouTube channel)
Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, acting director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the private sector should be actively involved in developing a treaty on the pandemic. (Credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs YouTube channel)


Experts have stressed that the world should build governance through a “pandemic treaty” to actively respond to a global health crisis.


The WHO has started preparing for the drafting and negotiation of a pandemic treaty which contains international cooperation and rules of conduct to strengthen the global response to the pandemic.


The WHO forms an Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) to draft and negotiate a treaty and submit the final report for consideration by the 77th World Health Assembly in 2024.


Ouma pointed to a disparity in information sharing between countries during Covid-19. “But if one region is at risk, other regions could also be. There should be countermeasures,” he said.


Peck also said countries should create a tool to share information early to respond quickly in the initial stage of a pandemic and establish infrastructure to improve rapid and equitable access to essential medicines, including vaccines and treatments. .


She called on the private sector to participate in the negotiations for a treaty on the pandemic.


Covid-19 vaccines were produced in a short time because companies established mass production capacity through investments in technologies, she continued.


“As the private sector fills the gaps that the WHO or the government could not step into, they should be able to become key players in the pandemic treaty,” she said.


Ouma also said that the private sector’s contribution to building health security would benefit them as they suffered setbacks in economic activities during the Covid-19 pandemic.


“The government should give incentives to the private sector to encourage its active participation,” he said.

Maria D. Ervin