China will continue to support the World Health Organization's work in global health emergency preparedness and response, said a Chinese delegate on Tuesday at the 76th World Health Assembly in Geneva.
Representatives from WHO member states gathered on Tuesday to discuss how to build up stronger health emergency preparedness, response and resilience, or HEPR, architecture, a global framework that enables the WHO to better react to global health emergencies.
At the second committee of the assembly, the Chinese delegate said China concurred with the importance and urgency of strengthening the architecture and is willing to further provide the necessary human, technological and financial assistance to the WHO.
China suggested state parties should increase their investment in the public health system first, he said, and the country is now reforming its disease control system to "monitor, warn of, answer and address public health emergencies in a timely and easy manner".
China also proposed the convening of a committee as soon as possible to provide recommendations on the next step in long-term COVID-19 prevention and control, the delegate said.
A few weeks ago, the WHO declared that COVID-19 was no longer a public health emergency of international concern. However, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the removal of the highest level of alert did not mean the danger was over. The emergency status could be reinstated if the situation changed, he said. As of March, COVID-19 has killed nearly 7 million people.
At the WHA plenary on Monday, Tedros warned again of the threat of another variant, and a new disease even "deadlier" than COVID-19.
In his speech to the member states, Tedros called for a pandemic treaty that seeks to shore up global defenses against new pathogens.
The global pandemic treaty is considered to be one of the core issues in strengthening HEPR architecture, according to a WHO proposal by Tedros. The accord is being drafted by the state parties and is planned to be up for adoption at next year's WHA.
During a Monday meeting of the assembly, Cao Xuetao, vice-minister of the National Health Commission, said China has made great contributions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by helping the international community tackle the global crisis.
China donated $50 million to the WHO and $100 million to COVAX, an international initiative that distributes vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, he said. The country also dispatched 38 expert teams to 34 countries to help them fight the disease and supplied over 2.2 billion vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations.
Hu Qiangqiang, a spokesman for the NHC, said China will continue to collaborate with the global community to face health challenges and safeguard the well-being of people across different countries.