On 2 December, a consortium of older persons and dementia organisations submitted a joint and open letter to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) for a new WHO convention, agreement, or other international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.
In the letter, the consortium expressed their deep concern that future resilience for these vulnerable constituencies is not being adequately reflected in the proposed draft of the treaty.
The consortium, lead by ADI, includes Dementia Alliance International (DAI), Help Age International, NGO Committee on Aging, International Federation on Ageing, Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance and The Global Alliance for the Rights of Older Persons. Together, the letter was submitted in response to the next scheduled meeting of INB, taking place 5-7 December.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO met in December 2021 at its second ever special session to establish an INB to draft and negotiate a new pandemic preparedness and response treaty.
Earlier this month, the INB published a so-called “zero-draft” outlining the contents of the treaty. The treaty in its current form fails to include dementia despite shocking mortality figures and the disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on this constituency.
ADI has been advocating to Member States and the INB for the specific inclusion of protections for those living dementia within the treaty since the establishment of the INB, delivering statements at previous meetings and providing extensive written technical feedback.
It is the hope of ADI that through this escalation and the momentum generated by us and our partners, that Member States and the INB will address these concerns.
On the subject, Deputy CEO Chris Lynch said: “It is important that Member States and the INB address the legitimate concerns of ourselves and our partners relating to this treaty.”
Country level mortality data from the COVID-19 pandemic for older people and those living with dementia, demonstrated the shocking and brutal impact this had on our constituency, further compounded by non-rights-based triage decision making. Those involved have the ability to help ensure this does not happen again.
Within the letter, the consortium specifically requests the instrument is equipped to protect older persons and those living with dementia in future pandemics and health emergencies by: ensuring a rights based, non-ageist approach to triage; a robust and consistent approach to infection control in long-term care facilities; proportionate restrictions; concrete measures for the continuation of essential diagnostic and treatment and rehabilitation pathways; access to palliative care, and essential recording of emergency or pandemic related mortality and morbidity.