New York, 21 September 2023 (TDI): The President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), Dennis Francis convened the UN High-Level Meeting (HLM) on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response (PPPR) on September 20, in New York.

The theme of the meeting was “Making the world safer: Creating and maintaining political momentum and solidarity for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response.”

The meeting served as an opportunity for the Member States of UNGA to prevent and prepare for pandemics and their consequences, using an approach that involves all government sectors.

The meeting was centered on devising better responsive strategies to ensure timely and equitable access to treatment to all the countries of the world.

Political Declaration on PPPR

As a result of the high-level meeting on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (PPPR), the world leaders adopted the political declaration aimed at mobilizing collaboration and coordination at the national, regional, and international political levels to better prevent, prepare for and respond to pandemics.

The declaration affirmed timely action against the pandemic driven by science and also to ensure equity and respect for human rights among all the states globally, followed by recognizing not to repeat the mistakes made during the pandemic of Covid-19.

In specification to that, the Political Declaration read the concerns of Member States about glaring inequalities in access to vaccines against COVID-19, noting that in December 2022, 22 % of people in low-income countries were fully vaccinated compared with 75% in high-income countries.

In that course, in the Political Declaration, the Member States called particularly for the promotion of equitable distribution of affordable and quality medicines.

Also, the Member States in the Declaration called for reaffirming the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which provides flexibility for the protection of public health and promotes access to medicines for all, particularly for developing countries.

Remarks by the Director General of WHO

The Director-General of World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the adoption of the Political Declaration as historic.

He urged the Member States to take urgent action to implement the commitments made in the document.

He also stressed to the Member States to reach a solid agreement by May 2024 to draft a WHO international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, as well as to amend the 2005 international health regulations.

Remarks by President of UNGA

Dennis Francis, the President for the 78th Session of UNGA, emphasized during the meeting, “We cannot blindly assume that this is the last pandemic; there will be others, just as there have been successive ones in the past.”

Also, the President urged that in times of a pandemic, all nations must unite and act in solidarity as the last pandemic pulled back the curtain on inequities that the world suffers.

Also read: UNGA adopts political declaration to accomplish SDGs

Remarks by UN Secretary-General

The Secretary-General of UN, António Guterres at the meeting highlighted the infliction of Covid-19 on the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.

In his remarks, he emphasized financially boosting low-income countries so that they can invest in the universal healthcare system.

Also, to support the development of an effective debt-relief mechanism that supports payment suspensions, longer lending terms, and lower rates for developing countries drowning in debt.

Moreover, he urged the countries to prevent the spread of misinformation and outright lies that undermine expert advice and information on pandemics.

In this regard, he highlighted that the UN will be developing a UN Code of Conduct for Information Integrity on Digital Platforms, ahead of the Summit of the Future next year, which is hoped to be implemented voluntarily by governments and platforms.

While speaking about the response to complex global shocks at the meeting, he proposed an Emergency Platform to strengthen coordination to complex global shocks, including the economic and social impacts of pandemics, complementing efforts to deal with their health effects.