Strengthening global pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

COVID-19 has highlighted that the international system’s ability to respond to pandemics is underdeveloped. New Zealand is working with other countries to identify how we can strengthen the global health system to make sure the world does not face a health emergency of this magnitude again.

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response 

At the May 2020 World Health Assembly (WHA), the World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General was tasked with initiating an independent and comprehensive evaluation of the WHO coordinated health response to COVID-19.

This led to the establishment of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR), co-chaired by Rt Hon Helen Clark. The IPPR recommended a series of immediate actions focused on ending the COVID-19 crisis and future focused recommendations aimed at preventing another pandemic. You can access the IPPR report and its recommendations on the IPPR website.

New Zealand is actively engaged in progressing a number of the IPPR’s key recommendations. We are working alongside other governments to develop improvements in our global pandemic prevention, preparedness and response systems, including through negotiations at the WHO.

Priorities for New Zealand

At a high level, New Zealand’s priorities for strengthening global pandemic, prevention, preparedness and response (PPPR) are to:

  • improve global surveillance, validation and early response to health threats
  • strengthen the WHO as the United Nations (UN) system leader on global health issues
  • negotiate a new legal instrument for PPPR (a pandemic treaty, convention or other legally binding instrument).

We are working to achieve these goals in a number of different ways, internationally, including:  

  • negotiating a new pandemic legal instrument – developing whole of government, whole of society approaches to ensuring better pandemic prevention, preparedness and response
  • amending the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) – working together to ensure the IHR remain fit for purpose, and support countries in handling public health events and emergencies that have the potential to cross borders
  • strengthening the World Health Organization – ensuring the WHO is supported to fulfil its mandate, including through sustainable and predictable financing.

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