United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, yesterday, urged the world to start thinking about the next pandemic as it strives to recover from the current one.
In a message to mark the maiden International Epidemic Preparedness Day, Guterres stressed the need for countries to strengthen disease prevention capacities.
His words: “With COVID-19 having now killed more than 1.7 million people, devastated economies, upended societies and exposed the world’s vulnerabilities in the starkest ways, the value of health emergency preparedness has hit homes like never before.
“Unfortunately, it is easy to imagine a virus just as infectious but even more lethal. We can already draw many lessons from the experiences of the past year.
“Preparedness is a sound investment, costing far less than emergency expenditures.
“Societies need stronger health systems, including universal health coverage”
The UN scribe called for more social protection and timely support for people and communities.
Noting that most new infectious diseases were from animals, Guterres canvassed greater attention to “encroachment of people and livestock into animal habitats.”
He added: “Across this work, science must be our guide. Solidarity and coordination are crucial within and among countries. No one is safe unless all of us are safe.
“The UN system, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), is strongly committed to supporting governments and all partners in strengthening epidemic preparedness as a crucial part of our broader work to build a healthier world and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
ALSO, WHO called on countries to re-skill for emergencies.
Its Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, made the appeal during the event.
The Ethiopian reiterated the importance of strong primary health systems as foundation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), as well as the “eyes and ears” of health systems everywhere.
“True preparedness is not just a job of the health sector, it requires an all-of-government and all-of-society approach. The pandemic (COVID-19) has highlighted the intimate links between the health of humans, animals and the planet, which we can only address with a One Health Approach.’’