António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), has urged governments throughout the world to prepare for the next pandemic, stating that COVID-19 will not be the last.
Guterres noted this in a statement sent late Monday to commemorate the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness, which was marked on December 27 to emphasize the significance of epidemic prevention, preparedness, and collaboration.
The need of investing in systems to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease epidemics has been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) worked closely with governments to support efforts to build strong emergency and epidemic preparedness systems, as part of an overall approach to advance universal health coverage and strengthen primary healthcare systems, on the first-ever International Day of Epidemic Preparedness last year.
The UN boss said: “COVID-19 demonstrated how quickly an infectious disease can sweep across the world, push health systems to the brink, and upend daily life for all of humanity.
“It also revealed our failure to learn the lessons of recent health emergencies like SARS, avian influenza, Zika, Ebola and others. And it reminded us that the world remains woefully unprepared to stop localised outbreaks from spilling across borders and spiralling into a global pandemic.
“COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic humanity will face. Infectious diseases remain a clear and present danger to every country.
“As we respond to this health crisis, we need to prepare for the next one. This means scaling-up investments in better monitoring, early detection and rapid response plans in every country — especially the most vulnerable.
“It means strengthening primary healthcare at the local level to prevent collapse. It means ensuring equitable access to life-saving interventions like vaccines for all people.
“And it means achieving Universal Health Coverage. Most of all, it means building global solidarity to give every country a fighting chance to stop infectious diseases in their tracks.”
Every nation would have a fighting chance “to stop infectious diseases in their tracks” if global unity was built, the UN chief stated.
Earlier this month, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised a special session of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the UN agency’s top decision-making body, for agreeing to draft a new global agreement on pandemic prevention and response.
Meanwhile, as the new Omicron variant spreads like wildfire, the UN reports that 70% of COVID vaccines have been distributed to the world’s ten largest economies, while the poorest countries have received only 0.8 percent, describing the situation as “not only unjust but also a threat to the entire planet.”
To break the cycle, the UN stressed that at least 70% of the population in each nation must be vaccinated, which the UN vaccine policy hopes to achieve by mid-2022, despite the fact that this will necessitate at least 11 billion vaccine doses.
The Secretary-General stated, “An outbreak anywhere is a possible pandemic everywhere.”
Only approximately 3% of the almost eight billion doses provided worldwide have been delivered in Africa, and only about 8% of Africans are completely vaccinated, compared to more than 60% in several high-income nations.