PUBLIC HEARINGS

WHO seeks views of Kenyans on new pandemics treaty

President Uhuru Kenyatta first mooted the treaty alongside 24 other world leaders in March last year

In Summary
  • On Friday, WHO said it will hold public hearings on April 11 and 12 followed by another round in June.
  • Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said strengthening of the WHO to better deal with Covid-19 and other global pandemics should be at the heart of the response.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during a presser at Afya house on March 11.
PANDEMICS TREATY: Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during a presser at Afya house on March 11.
Image: FILE

World Health Organization is inviting Kenyans to give views regarding a proposed global treaty to prevent future pandemics.

President Uhuru Kenyatta first mooted the treaty alongside 24 other world leaders in March last year.

On Friday, WHO said it will hold public hearings on April 11 and 12 followed by another round in June.

“WHO is seeking input from all interested parties in these hearings and strongly encourages participation in this important process,” WHO said in a statement.

It also issued a guiding question for the hearings: "What substantive elements do you think should be included in a new international instrument on pandemic preparedness and response?”

The hearings will take place through videoconference and written submissions through a web portal.

WHO welcomed contributions from both public and private sector entities, including NGOs that have shown interest in pandemic preparedness and responses.

Last December, the World Health Assembly agreed with the proposal to develop a new treaty and established an intergovernmental negotiating body to draft and negotiate the same.

After the public hearings, the INB will deliver a progress report to the 76th World Health Assembly in 2023.

It will also submit its outcome for consideration by the 77th World Health Assembly in 2024.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said Kenya supports the new treaty.

He said strengthening the WHO to better deal with Covid-19 and other global pandemics should be at the heart of the response.

“The world must work like a single army defending ourselves against a common enemy with each member state being the other’s keeper.

"A silo mentality and kneejerk reactions will neither be sustainable nor effective,” he told delegates at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly last year.

He said the treaty should ensure equitable access and distribution of medical and other countermeasures, global coordination and funding for research and development.

Other areas to be covered are establishing mechanisms for timely sharing of information and technologies.

Also, lifting unnecessary trade, travel, and other barriers hampering the ability of member states to mount effective preventive and responsive measures.

Kagwe said Kenya believes that equity should be both a guiding principle and a goal.

“We have failed in a sense to appreciate that this disease is an attack at a global level, no respecter of national boundaries and affects all countries indiscriminately.

"Therefore, we cannot attack it piecemeal country by country in a manner akin to use of guerrilla tactics when the enemy has started an all-out attack on the globe,” he said.

The WHO said it will give more details on how individuals or institutions can participate in the public hearings.

(Edited by Bilha Makokha)

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