CONCERNS ABOUT THE “POLITICAL DECLARATION” OF THE COMING UN/HLM MEETING
The World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations (UN), Heads of State and Government, are about to sign a “political declaration” attached to the next United Nations General Assembly High-level Meeting (HLM) on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response, which will take place on September 20th, 2023 in New York.
The political declaration, first, does not appropriately and thoroughly address the best practices to prevent the ongoing spread and evolution of SARS-CoV-2 and the potential spread of emerging pathogens of concern. In addition, this political declaration does not address Long Covid, one of the most mass-disabling events in history. The fact that the ongoing spread of SARS-CoV-2 accelerates the collapse of healthcare systems, and impedes safe accessibility to such systems for large sectors of the population, including clinically vulnerable people, is also made invisible.
We ask the UN to thoroughly and appropriately mention Long Covid in the political declaration on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response, and to consider all the following points:
- Long Covid should be considered as an emergency, and be part of any emergency plans. We must have concrete measures to prevent and treat the massive sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection and related disabilities, already harming the health of at least 65 million people worldwide – including children.
- Clean air appears to be quoted only once in the document, in a very vague way. However, clean air should be a key part of the prevention of any airborne epidemics, which are likely to multiply in the future.
- There appears not to be any mention of respirators/masks at all (or any other adequate mitigation measure for the airborne spread of pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2). Yet, high quality masks/respirators are the only way to ensure immediate, safe, universal accessibility in essential public spaces such as healthcare, schools, workplaces, and transport.
- There is insufficient mention of the alarming impact on hospitals, which SARS-CoV-2 creates or accelerates in multiple ways – for example, by driving excess demand as well as sickness and absence of healthcare personnel. This should be a major focus, given that healthcare access and safety are decreasing in many countries.
- The political declaration does not address the social consequences of making Covid “invisible”, as well as the ethical issues raised by the normalization of Covid-related deaths and disabilities. There is no discussion about the exclusion of a significant proportion of the population from social life, workplaces, education, and safe healthcare. The risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 endured by those who are not in the position to protect themselves, including many children, can result in death, disease, forms of « social death », stigmatization and harassment, in particular of Covid survivors, clinically vulnerable and Covid-aware people.
- While this remains unclear in the political declaration, we caution that references to mental health have been used by some to justify the end of effective protections against SARS-CoV2. However, the suffering and concerns of people « evicted » from public spaces since the start of the pandemic, and of people disabled by the virus, are never appropriately mentioned. In addition, we raise again the necessity to address strongly and adequately the damage of SARS-CoV-2 infection to human health, which can target basically all organs and body systems. Similarly, the role of private companies should be further clarified, including by making clear that the health and well-being of populations are given priority over financial profits.
Moreover, we were unable to find any Long Covid or Covid-aware advocacy organization or advocate involved in the drafting of the declaration, when we consulted WHO documents, and as Long Covid is not being mentioned, it seems that none was consulted.
Many of these concerns have been raised recently to the main stakeholders, upstream of the high level meeting.
A high-level meeting about the response to pandemics should answer the questions and issues of the very people directly impacted by the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 spread.
This declaration contains many points of concern, and its signature by Heads of State and Government, the WHO, and the United Nations, represents to us a global agreement for inaction.
-Solenn TANGUY, co-founder and president of Winslow Santé Publique, France
-Dr Elisa Perego, MA, PhD, researcher, Long Covid advocate and patient-researcher, University College London (UCL), Italy
-Gurdasani Deepti, Associate Professor of AI in Public Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
-Marta Esperti, MA, PhD candidate université Sorbonne Paris Nord, Long Covid advocate and researcher, Long Covid Italia founder, Italy
-Lara Wong, Founder, Clinically Vulnerable Families, UK
-Sarah Cooper, Director, High Risk Australia, Australia
-Joaquín Beltrán, Founder, Action for Care and Equity (ACE), USA
-Elisa ZENO, Engineer, PhD, co-founder of Ecole et Familles Oubliées, France
-Dr Jonathan Fluxman, on behalf of Doctors in Unite, UK
-Pauline OUSTRIC , President of #ApresJ20 Covid Long France
-Céline Lesprit Castera , infirmière, association #ApresJ20 Covid Long France
-Pauline Nexon, Auxiliaire de puériculture, association #ApresJ20, France
-Mylène Rahel DAMAMME , co-founder #ApresJ20 Association Covid Long France
-Michael Natt, Patient Advocate, Long Covid Support, UK
-David Church, BSc, MB, ChB, JCPTGP, ex-MRCGP, GP/Family Physician, member of MPS/DiU, past Medical Officer Special Scale to 2 Crown Health Enterprises
-Danilo Buonsenso, pediatrician, Italy
-David Kirby, retired general medical practitioner, Member of Doctors in Unite, UK.
-Louis Lebrun, MD, PhD, specialized in Public Health, France
-Jennifer Luetz, Styrelse, Covid19, Skola och Barn, Sweden
-José Méndez Gordito. President of AMACOP (Asociación madrileña de Covid Persistente), Spain
-Julie Grasset, Président Coeurvide19 association of covid19 victims, France
-Melissa Smallwood, Researcher, World Health Network
-Myrna OVER, Founder of Scholen Veilig, The Netherlands
-Marie VALDES, Association nationale PIMS Covid, France
-Almuth Ernsting, Covid Action Scotland, UK
-Dre Corinne Depagne, Pneumologist, France
-Isabelle Delez, president of Association Long Covid Euskal Herria ‘EuskalCe’, Spain
-Anna Romero Ros, afectades covid persistent Catalunya, Spain
-Salcedo Landa, Carlos Enrique miembro Colectivo Afectados de Long Covid de Murcia España, Spain
-Desmond WHYMS, Public Health Specialist, France
-Michaël Rochoy, MD, PhD, General Practitioner, France
-Michael Collins Morton, Writer, UK
-Loida González Mora, Colectivo de Afectados Long Covid Murcia España, Spain
-F.Jaén Coordinador, Plataforma libre elección educativa, Spain
-Eloisa De Velasco, COVID Persistente Murcia, Spain
-Marc Gomiz, member of Long Covid Andalucia, Spain
-Delphine Crespo, president of Long COVID Aragón, Spain.
-Blok Michael, Chairman of the Stichting Protect EveryBody foundation and the Containment Nu collective, Netherlands
-George Carter, M. Founder/Dir, Fdn for Integrative AIDS Research (FIAR)
-Councillor Frank Adlington-Stringer, North East Derbyshire District Council (Green Party), UK