In December 2021, the World Health Assembly established an intergovernmental negotiating body (INB) to draft and negotiate a WHO convention, agreement, or other international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.
The guiding question of the first round of public hearings was: 'What substantive elements do you think should be included in a new international instrument on pandemic preparedness and response?'
The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative welcomes the prioritization of equity as a strategic pillar within the WGPR and INB. As a not-for-profit research and development organization, DNDi focuses these comments on how an international instrument can best ensure investment in, discovery, and development of, and equitable access to essential health tools as global public goods.
The instrument should ensure national, regional and global coordination of R&D as a substantive element and encompass the following:
- Scope: All health tools, including medicines, diagnostics, and vaccines for existing pandemics and epidemics, including AMR and pandemic-prone neglected and other diseases.
- Financing: Sustainable financing of end-to-end R&D and access, including mechanisms for rapid mobilization of at-risk public investments; support for open collaborative approaches; increased surveillance, clinical trial, manufacturing, and regulatory capacity which strengthens health systems infrastructure to address both pandemic and existing health priorities.
- Governance: A distributed, decentralized, and democratic approach to production of knowledge and innovation, including R&D priority-setting, decision-making and resource allocation and coordination architecture that is governed to ensure greater parity between public and private actors and the ‘global south’ and the ‘global north.’
- Global norms: Globally agreed norms and binding rules that govern the R&D process - including transparency and open sharing of research data, knowledge, technology and equitable allocation of health tools - thereby accelerating the R&D process and ensuring the benefits of scientific progress will be equitably shared and considered global public goods, available to all regardless of where they are discovered, developed, or produced.