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Minister for Health Reaffirms Ireland’s Commitment to International Pandemic Agreement

The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has reaffirmed Ireland’s commitment to progressing the development of an International Pandemic Agreement aimed at strengthening pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The proposed agreement between World Health Organization member states was discussed at a meeting in Dublin between Ireland’s Health ministers and the Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Executive Director for Emergencies, Dr Mike Ryan, and WHO Technical Officer, Dr Cindi Lewis.

The WHO team are in Ireland for talks on the upcoming pandemic convention and reform of International Health Regulations, Ireland’s experience with Universal Health Coverage, health workforce strengthening and sustainable financing of the work of the WHO into the future.

Minister Donnelly was joined at the meeting by Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler, as well as Chief Medical Officer, Breda Smyth and Chief Nursing Officer, Rachel Kenna.

Minister Donnelly said, “Ireland is a strong supporter of the WHO leadership in the global health architecture. During the pandemic the WHO played a key role in supporting countries to understand, withstand and eventually overcome the impact of COVID-19 on our healthcare systems, which is why securing an international treaty to manage future pandemics is essential.”

“We know the world is watching, the stakes are high, and time is of the essence. It is important to note that this is also a generational opportunity, one which Ireland recognises we must not miss. I’m pleased to have secured increased funding in the 2024 Health Budget for Ireland’s assessed contributions to the WHO. It will rise from €1.5 million in 2023 to the target level of €3.7 million from 2024, well ahead of the 2029 deadline.”

Minister of State Mary Butler said, “despite many challenges, Ireland has made good progress over the last twenty years or so, in transforming mental health care in all respects. Ireland is committed to expanding international dialogue, knowledge sharing and problem solving around mental health, and I am very supportive of my officials significantly contributing to the very important work of the WHO Pan European Mental Health Coalition.”

Chief Medical Officer Professor Breda Smyth said, “Ireland welcomes the continued collaboration and support provided by the WHO in advancing the negotiations of the Working Group on amendments to the International Health Regulations and the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body for a Pandemic Agreement. The International Negotiating Body has been charged with a challenging but historic task.”

Rachel Kenna, Ireland’s Chief Nursing Officer, said, “my office has been working in close contact with the WHO, investigating the possibility of bilateral labour agreements with other countries in relation to augmenting the nursing workforce in Ireland with qualified nurses from abroad. With the help of the WHO work on this initiative has progressed significantly between Ireland and Kenya. A scoping exercise has been conducted to inform our position, in line with the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, and cognisant of Ireland’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 (good health and well-being).”

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