WTO, WHO pledge to work together to support cross-border flow of medical supplies

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The An-225 arrived in North China's Tianjin on April 12 evening to transport 400 tons of medical supplies bought from China, including seven million masks and several hundred thousand protective suits, to Poland. Photo by Pang Jie/People’s Daily
The An-225 arrived in North China's Tianjin on April 12 evening to transport 400 tons of medical supplies bought from China, including seven million masks and several hundred thousand protective suits, to Poland. Photo by Pang Jie/People’s Daily

The World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday pledged to work together to facilitate the cross-border flow of medical supplies and to resolve unnecessary disruptions to global supply chains.

The COVID-19 pandemic had an “unprecedented, far-reaching impact on the health, social and economic well-being of communities around the world,” and the efforts aimed at protecting lives can be “impeded by unnecessary disruptions to global trade and supply chains,” warned WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo and WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a joint statement.

They noted that governments’ trade policy decisions significantly influence “both getting medical equipment and supplies to where they are urgently needed and catalyzing the supply of critical inputs for the production of medicines and health technologies to fight the pandemic.”

Underlining that global, coordinated action is required to deal with the extraordinary challenges the pandemic poses to people’s health as well as their livelihoods, the two organizations called on their members to continue to share information about their measures in line with the established transparency mechanisms, which are now especially valuable in supporting a coordinated response.

“Heartened by the remarkable research efforts and the rapid mobilization of public and private resources to develop COVID-19 health technologies,” they also called upon governments to implement policy measures that can further facilitate research and development, and to promote their rapid dissemination within countries and across borders so as to ensure equitable access to those technologies. Enditem

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