“Impulsive reactions are an affront to the global solidarity we need to successfully respond to a crisis of this scale.”

Two Mongolia Red Cross volunteers help escort an elderly man to a vaccination centre to receive his COVID-19 vaccine in May 2021. Trained Red Cross volunteers have been supporting Mongolia’s vaccination campaign across all 21 provinces and nine districts.

Two Mongolia Red Cross volunteers help escort an elderly man to a vaccination centre to receive his COVID-19 vaccine in May 2021. Trained Red Cross volunteers have been supporting Mongolia’s vaccination campaign across all 21 provinces and nine districts.

Photo: Mongolia Red Cross

As the World Health Assembly Special Session (WHASS) comes to an end, Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), calls on Members States to turn words into action:

“The consensus reached among Member States this week to commit to a legal instrument that has preparedness, equity and a whole-society approach at its centre, is crucial. That the discussions this week took place in the shadow of Omicron, could not more clearly evidence the need for global collaboration to prepare and respond to pandemics.

“But broad principles agreed are not enough. When Member States next meet, they will need to drill down on exactly what is required to achieve these. We also need to keep in mind that this process is an opportunity to address the mistrust that has plagued the response, and so we urge member states to keep communities at the centre of discussions. We need to build on what has been learnt and instrumentalize an approach to global pandemics that is powerful on paper, and transformational in reality.”

Commenting on the Omicron variant discovery, Chapagain added:

“It has been an illusion to believe that speedy vaccination in some countries, while massive pockets of the world remain without access to vaccines, will bring this pandemic to an end. And instead of applauding the great science and the transparency that helped to uncover a new variant, countries punished it with impulsive reactions. This is an affront to the global solidarity we need to successfully respond to a crisis of this scale.”

For further information

In Geneva: Ann Vaessen, [email protected], +41 79 405 77 50