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China supports WHO's work in health emergency response

By China Daily | Updated: 2023-05-24 09:56

China will continue to support the World Health Organization's work in global health emergencies preparedness and response, said a delegate from China on Tuesday at the 76th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Representatives from WHO member states gathered on Tuesday to discuss how to build up stronger health emergency preparedness, response and resilience (HEPR) architecture, a global framework that enables the WHO to better react to global health emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the second committee A of the assembly, the Chinese delegate said China concurred with the importance and urgency of strengthening the architecture and is willing to further provide the necessary human, technological and financial assistance to the WHO.

China suggested state parties should increase their investment in the public health system first, he said, and the country is now reforming its disease control system to "monitor, warn of, answer, and address public health emergencies in a timely and easy manner".

China also proposed the convening of a committee as soon as possible to provide recommendations on the next step in long-term COVID-19 prevention and control, the delegate said.

A few weeks ago, WHO declared that COVID-19 was no longer a public health emergency of international concern. However, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO's director-general, warned the removal of the highest level of alert did not mean the danger was over and said the emergency status could be reinstated if the situation changed.

On WHA's Monday plenary, Tedros warned again of the threat of another variant, and a new disease even "deadlier" than COVID-19 which has killed nearly 7 million people as of March.

In his major speech to the member states, Tedros called for a global pandemic treaty that seeks to shore up the world's defenses against new pathogens.

"We cannot kick this can down the road. If we do not make the changes that must be made, then who will? And if we do not make them now, then when? When the next pandemic comes knocking, and it will, we must be ready to answer decisively, collectively and equitably," he said.

The global pandemic treaty is considered to be one of the core issues in strengthening HEPR architecture, according to a WHO proposal by the Director-General. The accord is now being drafted by the state parties and is planned to be up for adoption at next year's WHA.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, China has made great contributions to help the international community tackle the global crisis, said Cao Xuetao, vice-minister of the National Health Commission (NHC), during a Monday meeting of the assembly.

He said China donated $50 million to the WHO and $100 million to COVAX, an international initiative that distributes vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. The country also dispatched 38 groups of expert teams to 34 countries to help them fight the disease and supplied over 2.2 billion vaccines to more than 120 international organizations and countries.

Hu Qiangqiang, a NHC spokesperson, added that China will continue to collaborate with the global community to face health challenges and safeguard the well-being of people across different nations.

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