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June 26, 2023

GHTC submitted the following intervention at a US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) listening session held on June 20, 2023 on the amendment process for the International Health Regulations (IHR).

The Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) is a coalition of more than 45 nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and aligned businesses advancing policies to accelerate the creation of new drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, and other tools that bring healthy lives within reach for all people.

We appreciate the US government, particularly leadership from the Departments of Health & Human Services and State, for providing this consultative opportunity to comment on the ongoing International Health Regulations (IHR) amendment process. GHTC supports the ongoing negotiations of the Working Group on Amendments to the International Health Regulations (WGIHR) as it continues to advance discussions of the Member States Working Group on Strengthening WHO Preparedness and Response to Health Emergencies.  

These negotiations must be inclusive and transparent and must find ways to meaningfully engage a broad spectrum of stakeholders to ensure a successful outcome. We would encourage the United States to use its voice as a member state to ensure that non-state actors can engage in these processes and have the opportunity to provide their technical expertise.

We also wish to stress the importance of embedding research as a core pillar of health preparedness and that capacity-building assessments must reflect the essential role that research and development plays in responding to pandemics. While some progress was made in the latest version of the Joint External Evaluation (JEE), including adding a specific indicator to measure research and development with a particular focus on implementation research, the United States should push the World Health Organization (WHO) and other member states to also consider further revisions or expansion of the JEE to better reflect a range of health preparedness requirements, including the ability to develop and manufacture medical countermeasures, as well as regulatory indicators that assess capacity to rapidly approve new health technologies. Meaningful end-to-end development of medical countermeasures only happens when research, manufacturing, and regulatory capacities can come together.

The United States must also underscore its commitment to the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) and work with partners to ensure that the framework can continue to play an important role in IHR implementation. GHSA has offered a unique and valued platform to drive country ownership, multisectoral cooperation, and innovation for health security, and a new framework that is built with the changing global health architecture in mind, including a stronger focus on research coordination, as well as clinical trial, regulatory, and manufacturing capacities in lower- and middle-income countries, should be a key focus for the working group.

While not every country needs a full suite of capabilities for the end-to-end development of vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics, and other technologies, like personal protective equipment and oxygen therapies, through manufacturing, every country should have a plan and pathway to gain access to these tools at an affordable price when needed.