What does the World Health Organization (WHO) mean when it says it strives to achieve equity “in, for and through pandemic prevention, preparedness and response”?

The organization defines health equity as “the absence of unfair, avoidable, and remediable differences in health status among groups of people.” Differences in health status can arise for many reasons. Who decides whether the reason is fair or unfair, avoidable or unavoidable?

And how does WHO proposes to achieve equity “through” pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response? By its definition, it would mean “putting in place policies and allocating resources so that the people with less resources and those who face exclusion and discrimination (on the grounds of race, sex, gender, age, disability, or income) see greater improvements in their health and living conditions faster than those who are better off.”

To many ears, that sounds like the classic theory of redistribution of wealth, only in this case, it’s redistribution of health.

These linguistic gymnastics may seem so ludicrous as to be amusing, but the draft text the WHO is currently negotiating is no laughing matter. In fact, it is deadly serious. What’s at stake is a convention that, under its Constitution, can be adopted with a 2/3 vote at the World Health Assembly. Once adopted, the convention would be legally binding without the approval of the U.S. Senate. No reservations may be made by a country and withdrawing from the convention could take years.

READ MORE: The World Health Organization doesn’t care about your health