For a global system of quick responses to pandemics and the right to Science
Appeal to all governments so that the next General Assembly of the World Health Organisation can address COVID 19 to categorically reaffirm – precisely because we are experiencing an emergency – the full respect of human rights and the Rule of Law, and to promote the definition of rules and investments guaranteeing a rapid global response to pandemics.
We need measures resulting from the circulation of knowledge and the sharing and coordination of scientific research, the creation of databases, adequate platforms and structures for the full affirmation of what the UN recognize as the “human right to science”; the extended protection of people already affected by chronic, oncological and rare diseases through regular access to life-saving treatment, essential medicines, and the benefits of science even in a period of health emergency.
We need measures aiming at preparing the public to respond in an informed and prepared manner and that will need to be proactively, maturely, and intellectually honestly communicated to interested parties, and facing all repercussions on health, including mental health, of people affected by the lockdown.
We call on all governments to discuss the following issues at the opening of the General Assembly of the United Nations:
- To adopt measures guaranteeing a system of transparent sharing, cooperation and coordination of scientific research including the creation of databases, platforms and structures adequate to the full affirmation of what the UN recognize as the human right to science;
- To urge the ratification of international instruments on human rights that allow individual appeals in case of violation of the “right to science”, the respect of which should be documented thanks to the UN General Comment and through the creation of a special rapporteur on the matter;
- To set up health-related information campaigns accessible to the public to prepare citizens to respond in an informed matter to sanitary emergencies, and to face the physical and mental health repercussions deriving from social distancing and lockdown measures, which could become increasingly necessary, in a scientifically and socially adequate way;
- To strongly reaffirm the continued care of people already affected by non-transmittable diseases through regular access to life-saving treatment, essential medicines, and the benefits of science even in periods of health emergency:
- To adopt information and response mechanisms that monitor the development of the virus from the very beginning in developing countries and in migrant and refugee centers, i.e. in the places and conditions most exposed and most vulnerable to the consequences of the virus, with the aim of saving human lives and slowing its spread at a global level;
- To intervene on the WHO International Health Regulations (2005) to guarantee transparency on the decision-making process in adopting contrasting measures to a health emergency and to start proceedings against those responsible for violations of the Regulations;
- To guarantee the effective cooperation in clinical trials between the World Health Organisation, the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium, and the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness – as well as any other initiatives and platforms active in these fields to speed up the approvals of new medicines;
- To support the activities of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations;
- To strengthen the sharing and coordination of databases so that legal revisions can happen quickly, on the basis of evidence and medical-scientific needs, to allow suppliers to produce low-cost dosages at large scale in a simple way. For antivirals there is a need for an organised system for the screening of existing treatment and candidate molecules in a quick and standardised way;
- To strengthen the coordination and sharing of lists of locally and internationally trained staff, to be deployed quickly in case of an emergency;
- To encourage the production and sharing of global inventories of suppliers and supplies to be stocked and/or redirected in case of emergencies;
- To guarantee adequate financing, in cooperation with the private sector, to allow existing structures to be quickly reorganised for production during a pandemic, under WHO guidance;
- To take into account the development of the virus in low- and middle-income countries to save lives and slow its global circulation.