An ESMO statement delivered at the 74th World Health Assembly welcomed the Resolution on ‘Strengthening WHO preparedness for and response to health emergencies’ which aims to improve the ability of WHO to address the current pandemic and future health emergencies. Recognizing that addressing a global pandemic requires multi-stakeholder collaboration and the pooling of knowledge and resources, ESMO encouraged WHO to leverage resources developed by professional societies. ESMO highlighted its vast resources for professionals and patients on ESMO's ‘COVID-19 and Cancer Portal’, including recommendations for the management of cancer patients, a patient guide, educational resources, webinars, and a data collection registry. ESMO also suggested that WHO Member States consider the ‘ESMO Call to Action on COVID-19 Vaccinations and Patients with Cancer: Vaccinate. Monitor. Educate.’ when developing their vaccination strategies.
As a next step, the Resolution calls for the establishment of a WHO Member States Working Group on Strengthening WHO preparedness and response to health emergencies, which will submit a report containing proposed actions for WHO, Member States, and Non-State Actors like ESMO, for consideration at the 75th World Health Assembly in 2022. The Working Group should consider in its report the recommendations of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, the International Health Regulations Review Committee and the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, as well as the work of WHO and other WHO Executive Board and World Health Assembly decisions and resolutions.
In addition, the World Health Assembly decided to hold a ‘Special session of the World Health Assembly to consider developing a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic preparedness and response’ in November 2021.