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A4AH’s ‘red lines’ for a Pandemic Agreement

With an apparent divide between member states at INB9 on the content of Articles 4 (pandemic prevention) and 5 (One Health), and with only two months to go until the current deadline, Action for Animal Health has published what it wants to see as an minimum in both articles.

Red lines for Articles 4 and 5

  • The obligations in the articles must be progressive and recognise differences in national capacities 
  • Spill-over prevention must be about preventing, detecting and responding to pathogens in animals that may be of concern. This is to account for known pathogens that may not yet have pandemic potential, but could do in the future, as well as ‘disease x’.  
  • Data on pathogens or events of concern, resulting from multisectoral surveillance, should be shared with relevant competent intergovernmental in accordance with the amended International Health Regulations and with the World Organisation for Animal Health Terrestrial Code. WOAH has 183 member states that are party to these codes. 
  • Member states need to be supported to build surveillance systems that are not only actively looking for certain pathogens, but also to build everyday systems that are able to spot unusual events as part of routine surveillance. We are happy to see a reference to the need to strengthen animal health institutions in Article 6, which will contribute to this endeavour. 
  • Prevention should also be about assessing high-risk settings and practices, and mitigating the risk. These settings and practices must be determined by parties to the agreement, as they are contextual, and cannot be exhaustively outlined in these articles. These risk assessments will also help to pinpoint where active surveillance should take place. 
  • Measures taken to mitigate risk must incentivise change, and not penalise people or communities. Measures taken should also be in-line with guidelines and recommendations from competent intergovernmental organisations that member states are party to. 
  • Parties to the agreement should take into account to existing guidelines and recommendations from competent intergovernmental organisations, and to cooperate and coordinate with them when needed. These are guidelines and recommendations that have already been agreed by the member states of competent intergovernmental institutions that contribute to prevention at source. We suggest wording this in the agreement in a similar way to how it is worded in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
  • Article 5 must be kept and not merged with Article 4. It  should continue to reflect the essence of One Health as a multisectoral approach to the full pandemic prevention, preparedness and response cycle. This article should not be prescriptive as to how parties should implement One Health, as the approach will be different in different contexts. 
  • Article 5 should reflect the need for implementation of national multisectoral mechanisms/institutional arrangements for a One Health approach to pandemic PPR, to encourage coordination between sectors 
  • Article 5 should reflect the option for parties to seek support from competent intergovernmental organisations to implement the articles within the agreement. 

Finally member states should live the One Health approach in these negotiations, and consult with animal health and environment experts in civil society and within their government to inform their positions on these articles. There are ongoing exemplary efforts in many parts of the world to build a One Health approach to protect people, animals and the environment. 


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