9 November 2023—WHPA has been successful in influencing the terms of the latest draft of the WHO pandemic agreement to include more support for health professionals. In an open letter to the co-chairs of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) sent this week during the seventh INB meeting, taking place in Geneva on 6–10 November 2023, the WHPA expressed its appreciation for this responsiveness but also set out points where the text still falls short. A statement drawn from the letter was delivered at the INB session on 6 November by the World Medical Association representing WHPA.
The letter highlights where the current text under discussion, a proposal for a negotiating text of the WHO pandemic agreement, incorporates previous WHPA suggestions with particular appreciation for
- strengthening entire health systems and strengthening public health functions to provide the resilience needed during pandemic response;
- emphasis on the safety of the health and care workforce, including against violence and harassment;
- the language on financial investment in the workforce in developing countries;
- the inclusion of youth workforce.
Key issues are, however, still missing from the text. WHPA is particularly concerned that the text fails to mention the need for mental health care for health and care workers during both the pandemic response period and in the recovery period. In addition, the letter encourages Member States to reinstate text on the due protection of employment, civil and human rights, and safety and well-being, consistent with applicable international obligations and relevant codes of practice, which had been included in the previous draft.