WHO urges members to initiate necessary reforms against next pandemic

GENEVA (Reuters) – The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday urged countries to implement reforms needed to prepare for the next pandemic and honored an earlier commitment to increase funding for the UN health agency .

Speaking at the WHO’s annual assembly, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said weeks after ending the world’s state of emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic, it was time to move forward with talks on preventing the next pandemic.

“We cannot let things drag on,” the chief executive said in a speech to the organisation’s member states, warning that the next pandemic was bound to “knock on the door”.

He added, “If we don’t make the necessary changes, who will? And if we don’t do it now, when?”

The WHO annual assembly, to be held in Geneva for ten days and coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the organisation, is expected to address global health challenges including future pandemics.

The 194 member states are currently negotiating binding rules that set out their obligations in the event of an international health threat and are also drafting a comprehensive pandemic treaty for ratification next year.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “The commitment of this generation (on the pandemic treaty) is important because they are the ones who have experienced the horrors of what comes from a small virus.”

The countries are due to review the WHO’s 2024-2025 budget on Monday, which includes an increase in their annual dues.

(Reporting by Emma Farge, French edition edited by Dina Cartit, Blandine Heinault)

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