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The world has made little progress in preparing for future pandemics, says the Global Health Monitor



The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board once again calls for broad global cooperation and significant long-term funding for the preparation and prevention of pandemics.

The world has made little progress in preparing for future pandemics, says the Global Health Monitor

A resident wears a mask to help contain the spread of the coronavirus while browsing meat products in a Beijing supermarket on June 1

5, 2020. The capital is preparing for a coronavirus resurgence after more than 100 new cases were reported in the city in the past few days, which had not seen a case of local transmission in more than a month. Image: AP

As the world grapples with the devastating coronavirus pandemic, it is doing far too little to prepare for future, potentially even more damaging, pandemics, a global health monitor warned on Monday.

In a new report, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), an independent body established by the World Health Organization and the World Bank, said that despite numerous warnings, the coronavirus pandemic had shown how little the world was preparing for such disasters focused that major disease outbreaks were inevitable.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a tough test of the world’s preparedness,” the report said, concluding that the measures called for in their first report last year were prior to the Covid outbreak -19 little progress has been made.

“Unless we learn the lessons of Covid-19 or respond to it with the necessary resources and dedication, the next pandemic that is certain to come will be even more damaging,” she warned.

Gro Harlem Brundtland, GPMB co-chair and former WHO chief, stressed at the virtual launch of the report on Monday that the board had warned a year ago that the world was ill-prepared for a pandemic.

“Tragically and disastrously, we have realized our worst fears,” she said. “The effects of Covid-19 are even worse than expected, but the measures we requested last year have not yet been taken.”

The report comes as the global death toll from the novel coronavirus approaches one million, out of the nearly 30 million known cases since Covid-19 first appeared in China late last year.

Panic and neglect

Brundtland, also a former Norwegian Prime Minister, insisted it was time to break the “cycle of panic and neglect” that had sparked the “catastrophic” consequences of Covid-19.

The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board once again calls for broad global cooperation and significant long-term funding for the preparation and prevention of pandemics.

She called on the United Nations, WHO and international financial institutions such as the World Bank to convene a summit on the global health emergency to agree on an international framework for emergency preparedness and response.

The framework should include a “mechanism” to “ensure sustainable, predictable funding to the extent necessary,” Brundtland said.

“The return on investment in pandemic preparedness is huge,” she said, pointing out that “estimates of the cost of prevention and preparedness are measured in billions of dollars, but the cost of a pandemic is in trillions.”

Current WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus agreed to the virtual event, saying that “spending on health and prevention is not a charity. It is an investment in our future.”

Not being willing to invest, he said, “like we’re waiting for the plane to crash and then calling for more safety inspections; we’ll wait for the city to burn down and then decide we need a fire department.”

Tedros stressed that Covid-19 “will neither be the last pandemic nor the last global health emergency”.

“Every day we stand by and do nothing is a day that brings us closer to the next global health emergency, be it due to a disease outbreak, climate change or a natural or self-inflicted disaster,” he said.

“We don’t know what the next global health emergency will be, but we know it will come and we need to be prepared.”


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