World Health Assembly clouded in response to the epidemic

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Global health leaders gathered in Geneva on Sunday to discuss the epidemic are facing another viral problem: a vicious, emotional online response that falsely accuses the World Health Organization of conspiring to seize power from the national government.

The World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the 194 member states of the WHO, is holding its first completely private event in two years after lifting some restrictions on the coronavirus. Although the rally, now in its 75th year, is generally regarded as a dry, technological event, this year it is being framed by conspiracy theorists as a key moment in the battle between democracy and dictatorship.

The theories focus primarily on negotiating an “epidemic treaty” – a potential treaty that could one day control how countries prepare and respond to future epidemics. Although such an agreement would not be agreed to by the assembly, the response was rapid and spread beyond the world of healthcare.

“This so-called pandemic agreement is the single, largest global power grab that any of us have ever seen in our lifetime,” a Twitter account of the English pop group of the 1990s. That’s right, Fred Recently posted an article written by a Scottish archaeologist and television host for the right-wing GB News.

An epidemic deal is not imminent. Although member states agreed in December that a new agreement was needed, it would take several years of negotiations to reach a final draft; 2024 target. This will not give the WHO new powers, as the agency has no military or authorizing powers and will still have to rely on member states to comply and enforce its rules. Some supportive experts believe that this is unlikely to happen because of the huge geopolitical divisions between important countries such as the United States and China.

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But the idea has been popularized by various statistics. Russell Brand, a British comedian who was once known for his leftist outlook and hedonistic lifestyle, warned in a video message that negotiations for a deal would “end” democracy and that People of the future will say That “we went on a terrible technocratic, globalist agenda.”

In an interview with Stephen K. Bannon, a former Trump administration official, former GOP congresswoman Michelle Bachmann stressed that the Biden administration has amended the Universal Health Act, which “proposes that all nations of the world relinquish their sovereignty over their national health care decisions.”

Despite criticism from fact-checking websites like Snopes, there has been support for the response from mainstream U.S. politicians. “We should never allow that [President] Biden uses an “epidemic agreement” to control corrupt WHOs over American public health decisions, “Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) Wrote on Saturday. On Twitter.

Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host who helped shape the political discourse for American conservatives through partially false and inflammatory inquiries, recently argued on his show that the Biden administration was “relinquishing power to every aspect of your life.” “

“So, imagine that through the abuse of civil liberties you survived the Covid Lockdown, but managed from a permanent and foreign country,” he said.

Experts who follow the WHO argue that theories are so far-fetched that they contradict reality. No possible agreement on the epidemic is on the agenda of this year’s rally. The talks are not expected to end until at least 2024.

Even if the text of an agreement on epidemic preparedness is reached, it is up to the member states to sign, ratify and implement it. “Any agreement will ultimately have to be integrated with the domestic audience,” said Sueri Moon, co-director of the Global Health Center at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

“This kind of fear is a reminder of how polarized the public can be on the question of international cooperation. But at the end of the day, no country can deal with the epidemic alone, “Moon said.

This week’s rally, which begins on Sunday and ends on Saturday, will see representatives of member states discuss a range of issues, including the war in Ukraine and the MonkeyPix case outside its traditional base for dispersal.

However, much of the discussion is likely to be about how to navigate the end of the coronavirus epidemic and how to better prepare for the next one. In his inaugural address, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanam Ghebresas said the epidemic had “turned our world upside down.”

Although no agreement has been signed, some reforms will be discussed. The United States has drafted amendments to the International Health Regulations, a legal framework that was last updated in 2005 to allow countries to respond to any public health emergencies that may cross the border. The amendments seek to tighten the requirements for sending information about such emergencies to the WHO, although much of the discussion on reform is expected to take place in the coming years.

The Trump administration has sent a letter to the United States withdrawing from the World Health Organization in response to the coronavirus.

Also on the agenda is an agreement to gradually increase the mandatory contributions of member states to the WHO budget, the total amount of which is currently less than the net revenue of many large hospitals in the United States.

The WHO has been criticized throughout the epidemic, with most conspirators accusing it of using the virus as an excuse to exaggerate or seize power. Others have criticized the WHO and its leaders for being too close to Beijing, with President Donald Trump calling the agency “China-centric” when it cut funding and withdrew US membership (Biden administration later rejoined and resumed funding).

Much of the current criticism of a potential pandemic deal comes from English-speaking countries.

In Canada, Conservative politician Leslie Lewis, optimistic about the party’s leadership, said a deal would “erode our democracy” when the anti-lockdown United Australia party ran a full-page ad in the newspaper accusing major political parties of plotting. “To transfer all our health resources and hospitals to the Chinese-controlled World Health Organization.”

The idea, however, is not confined to the Anglosphere, but to the “WHO-Pandemievertrag” aimed at anti-lockdown protests in Germany. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro became a hero for the movement when a video on social media showed him saying he would never sign an agreement on epidemic preparations.

Responding to some criticism from the WHO, Tedros recently said that a “small minority group is making misleading statements and intentionally distorting information. I want the crystal clear. The WHO agenda is universal, open and transparent. The WHO stands firm for individual rights.”

Russia and China, two members of the Security Council, have stated opposition to using force or imposing sanctions on Iran. Russia’s state news outlets have suggested that the WHO would be reformed if the United States and its allies seize power. Chinese social media is a petition It has recently been announced that an epidemic agreement will allow the WHO to control the epidemic response in Beijing.

China, where the coronavirus first caught, has been criticized by the WHO and some member states for not sharing complete information in early 2020 and subsequently blocking WHO-backed investigations into the source of the virus – both potential violations of international health rules for which Beijing is already bound. .

Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University who consulted on amendments to the 2005 International Health Code, wrote: Thursday Many conservatives on Twitter were outraged that Beijing had “deceived the world”, but called it “pure hypocrisy” that their own countries should not comply with global health norms.

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