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COVID-19: Focus on NGOs recommendations on global health

Published 19 May 2021 in Analysis

In the spring of 2021, some major international summits will provide an opportunity for world leaders to make concrete commitments to end the Covid-19 pandemic and prevent the next one.

On May 21, 2021, the European Commission and the Italian Presidency of the G20 will host the Global Health Summit. The following week, from May 24 to June 1, the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), will be held. And from June 11 to 13, G7 leaders will meet under the British Presidency.

While the ACT-Accelerator (ACT-A), the mechanism to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 tools and strengthen health systems around the world, still lacks sufficient resources to meet its objectives for 2021, new commitments are expected from governments.

Overview of recommendations from civil society organizations.

NGOs recommendations to the French government

One year after the official start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the French coalition Collectif Santé Mondiale published a position paper (in French) “to remedy the lack of solidarity" in the fight against the pandemic.

The Collectif Santé Mondiale calls on the French government to safeguard aid for global health. It gathers 10 NGOs committed to global health: Action Contre la Faim, Action Santé Mondiale, Equipop, Médecins du Monde, ONE, Oxfam, le Planning familial, Sidaction, Solidarité Sida and Solthis.

The document presents the French government with 10 courses of action to fight the pandemic more effectively at the global level:

  • Fund France’s “fair share” of the ACT-Accelerator, i.e., allocate an additional 870 million euros to its past pledges (150 million euros)
  • Distribute its financial contribution across the four pillars of ACT-A according to the needs, with special attention to health systems strengthening
  • Join the WHO COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) and support a temporary waiver on Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Suspension (TRIPS)
  • Redistribute vaccine doses, through the COVAX pillar of ACT-A, to meet the allocation framework for equitable access proposed by the WHO
  • Make access to sexual and reproductive health and rights and the fight against gender-based violence an integral part of the response to the pandemic
  • Ensure transparency in the use of public funds and international cooperation mechanisms, including agreements with private companies and the price of purchased vaccines
  • Invest in strengthening public health systems, especially primary and community health services
  • Address the indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on global health (sexual and reproductive health, nutrition, other epidemics, etc.)
  • Increase the share of France’s official development assistance earmarked for global health (to 15%, up from 7% in 2019).
  • Mobilize more innovative financing (e.g., the tax on financial transactions, IFFIm, or Special Drawing Rights) to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3: "Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all".

Civil society recommendations to G7 countries

The Civil 7 (C7) is an engagement group which brings together civil society organizations and international solidarity actors from G7 member states (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Ahead of the June 11-13 G7 Summit, the C7 shared its communiqué 2021 to share civil society’s recommendations to the G7.

As part of the international response to the Covid-19 pandemic:

  • Close ACT-A’s funding gap for 2021
  • Start sharing surplus vaccinations with COVAX to prioritize vaccination of healthcare workers and vulnerable people everywhere
  • Not blocking the TRIPS waiver
  • Work with national governments, WHO and other multilateral agencies to ensure 60% of the population in every country are offered a vaccine by the end of 2021.

On broader global health issues:

  • Allocate 0.1% of gross national incomes to official development assistance for health, and help countries mobilize 5% of their GDP in favor of universal health systems
  • Adopt a "one health" approach, recognizing that human and animal health are interdependent and linked to the health of the ecosystems in which they exist, to prevent future pandemics
  • Allocate official development assistance from G7 countries to strengthening health systems in priority.

Civil society recommendations to world leaders

The Pandemic Action Network is a network of more than 100 organizations – from around the world and across sectors – formed to end the current pandemic as quickly as possible and ensure that the world is prepared for the next one. The 2021 Agenda for Action presents the network’s recommendations to world leaders.

To end the Covid-19 pandemic:

  • Fully fund the ACT-Accelerator in 2021
  • Agree to a roadmap to achieve herd immunity (vaccinate at least 70% of the world’s population) as soon as possible
  • Donate excess vaccine doses through ACT-A as soon as possible
  • Conduct "slot swaps" whereby high-income countries reallocate some of their existing orders, giving their earlier “slots” to COVAX, ACT-A’s vaccine pillar
  • Expedite the delivery of rapid tests, medical oxygen and personal protective equipment to health care workers around the world.

To prevent the next pandemic from occurring:

  • Establish a new multilateral funding mechanism dedicated to promoting pandemic preparedness and prevention
  • Invest in global Research & Development capacity (R&D) to develop new tools to combat emerging infectious diseases and pandemic threats, without undernmining funding for R&D on existing diseases
  • Strengthen global and national surveillance capacities and outbreak analytics
  • Strengthen global capacities, institutions and systems for pandemics, health security and resilient health systems, including through reforming the WHO and strengthening international frameworks for pandemic preparedness and response
  • Promote equity-focused initiatives and human rights protection in all aspects of pandemic preparedness, response, and recovery, including specific attention to address the intersectional and gendered effects of outbreaks.

The People’s Vaccine Alliance is a coalition of health, humanitarian, and human rights organizations urging that, when safe and effective vaccines are developed, they are produced rapidly at scale and made available for all people, in all countries, free of charge:

  • Ensure the vaccine is purchased at true cost prices and provided free of charge to people
  • Make public funding for research and development conditional on research institutions and pharmaceutical companies freely sharing all information, including those covered by intellectual property
  • Implement fair allocation of the vaccine which prioritizes health workers and other at-risk groups in all countries
  • Ensure full participation of developing countries as well as civil society in decision-making fora about the vaccines (and other COVID-19 technologies) and ensure transparency and accountability of all decisions.

Further reading

It’s Time to Pandemic-Proof the World: A 2021 Agenda for Action

Documents to download

It’s Time to Pandemic-Proof the World: A 2021 Agenda for Action C7 Communiqué 2021 - Civil society’s recommendations to the G7