Document Type


Publication Date





There is a broad consensus around equity’s importance. Even countries that hoarded supplies during the acute phase of COVID-19 seem to understand that the international community must find a means to ensure fairer allocation of medical resources when the next health crisis hits. But there has been little agreement about the concrete steps needed to operationalize fairer access and benefit sharing. That is, what are the workable mechanisms that could reduce the divide between richer and poorer populations? The World Health Assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organization, has appointed an Intergovernmental Negotiating Body to develop a pandemic convention, agreement, or other instrument under the WHO constitution. The February 2023 draft is designed “to achieve greater equity … through the fullest national and international cooperation.” It is important that the negotiators develop specific, measurable metrics that directly impact equity. The mechanisms and metrics agreed upon should allow the public to evaluate whether a more equitable system is emerging through this new regime. Equity won’t just happen. We need to plan and prepare for equity, and we need international norms with which nations must comply to achieve the fairness we strive for.

Publication Citation

Health Affairs Forefront, May 9, 2023.