Slovakia’s recent decision to distance itself from the new amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR) has sparked global attention. The IHR aims to prevent the international spread of diseases, enhance information sharing, and improve pandemic response strategies. Despite the approval of over 190 countries, Slovakia stands alone in its dissent.

The Health Ministry, led by Zuzana Dolinková, cited insufficient time to review the amendments as the reason for Slovakia’s decision. This move has raised concerns about potential delays in accessing crucial information and vaccines compared to other nations. The decision to dissociate from the IHR has been met with criticism from various healthcare organizations, labeling it as a regressive step that endangers public health.

Slovakia’s representation at the Geneva meeting by anti-vaxxer and Slovak National Party (SNS) MP Peter Kotlár has further fueled controversy. Kotlár, known for his skepticism towards vaccines and his conspiracy theories about Covid-19, has been appointed as the government’s special envoy for the investigation of the pandemic. This choice has been condemned by health experts, who view it as a significant international embarrassment.

The Slovak Chamber of Pharmacists (SLeK) and the Association of Outpatient Providers (ZAP) have both denounced Slovakia’s decision, emphasizing the risks it poses to individuals and society at large. The Association of Private Doctors (ASL) has highlighted the potential threats to patients and healthcare professionals due to the country’s stance on the IHR amendments.

In response to the backlash, Minister Dolinková has announced plans to reinforce the current interdepartmental working group with experts from various fields to assess the updated documents from the WHO. This initiative aims to ensure a thorough evaluation of the implications of the new regulations on Slovakia’s healthcare system and pandemic response strategies.

Slovakia’s divergence from the global consensus on the IHR amendments underscores the complexities and challenges of international health cooperation. As the world continues to grapple with the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, solidarity and collaboration among nations remain crucial in safeguarding public health and mitigating the impact of future health crises.