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IPU facilitates discussions between Nordic MPs and WHO

Cecilia Widegren

Cecilia Widegren, Head of the Swedish Delegation with Martin Chungong, IPU Secretary General

The IPU opened its doors to its first 2022 in-person delegation of parliamentarians with a dozen MPs visiting from Denmark, Finland and Sweden on 27-28 January to learn more about the IPU’s work.

Led by Ms. Cecilia Widegren, Head of the Swedish Delegation, Mr. Søren Søndergaard, Chair of the Danish delegation and Ms. Heli Järvinen, Head of the Finnish delegation, the inter-parliamentary group were also in Geneva for discussions at the World Health Organization (WHO) on vaccines and future pandemic-preparedness.

How can parliamentarians, through their outreach, overcome vaccine hesitancy with their constituents? What pressure can parliaments put on governments to ensure that they are better prepared for future pandemics? How can the WHO provide timely and evidence-based information to parliaments on vaccine efficacy? And what legal instruments are needed to ensure better access to vaccines and health care generally?

The critical role of parliaments in strengthening pandemic prevention, preparedness and response was also underlined as the WHO launches the process to draft a global accord expected to be ready in 2024.  

The discussions follow a recent IPU emergency resolution to support equitable access to vaccines, particularly in the developing world.

Unanimously backed by IPU Member Parliaments at the 143rd IPU Assembly in Madrid, Spain, at the end of last year, the resolution calls on the international community to ensure “timely, equitable and universal access to safe, affordable, quality and effective vaccines.”

In a joint letter sent to all 178 IPU Member Parliaments, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and IPU Secretary General, Mr. Martin Chungong called for parliamentary leadership to promote vaccine access, uptake and equity nationally and globally. 

The IPU and the WHO are also preparing to launch a new handbook for parliamentarians on on strengthening health security preparedness.

The IPU has a longstanding partnership with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency which supports financially much of the IPU’s work on democracy, human rights and gender equality.