The Australian Institute for Infectious Disease (AIID) has called for improved international rules for surveillance, early detection and responses to new and emerging diseases in order to avoid a repeat of the inequitable and disjointed outcomes seen during the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AIID has provided an expert submission as part of a comprehensive consultation process led by the Federal Government to guide its contribution to reforming the International Health Regulations (IHR) and the formulation of a new international pandemic accord.
The AIID believes reform is critical to improve global pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. Ambitious and meaningful change is urgently needed before the next pandemic strikes.
The submission supports Australia's active participation in the ongoing negotiations coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and encourages Australia to continue its leadership role supporting countries in preventing and responding to health emergencies, particularly within the Asia-Pacific region.
Within the comprehensive submission, the AIID:
- Supports increased sharing of pathogen samples, genomic sequences and data, emphasising the importance of equitable access to the benefits arising from their utilisation such as vaccines and treatments.
- Proposes maintaining regional stockpiles of pandemic countermeasures such as vaccines and protective equipment and creating new provisions which tie access to early disease reporting.
- Advocates for responsible practices, discouraging naming strains after specific localities to avoid negative consequences and stigma associated with early reporting.
- Promotes a 'One Health' approach, balancing human, animal, and environmental health to prevent disease transmission, alongside advocating for Universal Health Coverage and protection of human rights.
- Calls for strengthening the WHO's powers and resources, enhancing regional networks for resource sharing, investing in diverse health workforces, community engagement, and facilitating cheaper, equitable vaccine production and distribution.
Professor Jim McCluskey, University of Melbourne Assistant Vice Chancellor and Co-Chair of the AIID Steering Committee said: “This submission is one of the first pieces of collaborative work from the AIID Foundation Partners. We applaud the Australian Government's commitment to addressing these critical global health challenges and the AIID stands ready to support and contribute to the development of effective strategies for pandemic preparedness and response.”
Professor Brendan Crabb, Burnet Institute Director and CEO said: “Our submission is a clarion call for a brighter and more secure future in the face of global health threats. It underscores the urgency of working collaboratively at the international level to build a more resilient world against the threat of pandemics.”
Professor Sharon Lewin, Doherty Institute Director said: "The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the imperative for a more cohesive and robust global response to health emergencies. The AIID is committed to supporting Australian Governments to drive meaningful change to ensure that our nation, the region and the world are better equipped to face future pandemics and international health crises."
The AIID’s full submission is published here: https://aiid.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/AIID-DFAT-DHAC-ConsultationResponse-2023.pdf
About AIID: The Australian Institute for Infectious Disease (AIID) is a partnership between the University of Melbourne, Doherty Institute, Burnet Institute with funding from the Victorian State Government to advance Australia and the region’s capacity for effective infectious disease and pandemic prevention, response and management.