The 2011 Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework: Global Health Secured or a Missed Opportunity?

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LEE K., Smith R (2011), “Global health diplomacy: A conceptual review,” Global Health Governance, 5(1).

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Global health security

In early 2007 the Indonesian government announced that it would cease sharing H5N1 influenza virus samples with the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Global Influenza Surveillance Network.  At the heart of the government’s complaint was the fact that samples were being passed by the WHO to pharmaceutical companies that developed, and patented, influenza vaccines that the Indonesian authorities could not purchase.  The decision gained widespread support among advocates of greater equity of access to medicines, and in response, the WHO established an intergovernmental process to agree a framework for influenza virus-sharing. The process officially concluded in April 2011 and a new Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework (PIPF) was agreed at the 64th World Health Assembly in May 2011. This paper investigates the events that prompted the re-examination of a technical cooperation system that has provided effective global health security on influenza for sixty years, and evaluates the framework that has now been agreed. Drawing the distinction between functional and moral-political benefits, the paper argues that PIPF more accurately represents a diplomatic standoff – one that has now been effectively sidelined with the passage of the agreement – rather than genuine reform. In fact, the PIPF papers over fundamental disagreements regarding authority in global health governance, the relationship between the WHO and governments, and the role of private industry. The paper concludes by examining an alternative mechanism that would arguably better address the inherent tensions between national and collective interests, and achieve the functional and moral-political benefits that the negotiations set out to achieve.




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