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The advent of the SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a broad interest in efforts to reform international health institutions. Central to this effort are calls for the creation of a new multilateral pandemic prevention treaty under the auspices of the United Nations or the WHO, with initial treaty talks slated for November.1 Such a treaty is intended to share information about new infectious diseases among member states, develop global pandemic surveillance and response capacity and more.2 If done correctly, such a treaty holds unique potential to help the world effectively detect and contain outbreaks of novel infectious diseases.1 2
Nevertheless, in the debate over a new global health treaty, the benefits and drawbacks of a new agreement to practising clinicians worldwide have been underdiscussed. Indeed, far from what some believe, a new pandemic prevention treaty has significant potential to alleviate burdens faced by clinicians treating infectious diseases in developing nations.3 Alternatively, a poorly constructed pandemic treaty may also reify disparities in global healthcare.2 It is therefore vital to discuss ways in which a new pandemic treaty ought to be designed to improve clinical care worldwide.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed structural inequities in global health, especially with regard to clinical care for infectious diseases. Two key factors, in particular, are uniquely responsible for these disparities due to their systemic impacts. The first of these is the fragility of many healthcare systems in less developed states in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia, making these nations more vulnerable to …