Coronavirus (1008) WHO: The best time to prevent the next pandemic is now: countries join voices for better emergency preparedness

2 October, 2020

Extracts below. Full text here:


1 October 2020 News release

COVID-19 will not be the world’s last health emergency and there is an urgent need for sustainable health emergency preparedness to deal with the next one.

This was the strong sentiment shared by participants of the United Nations General Assembly side-event on ‘Sustainable preparedness for health security and resilience: Adopting a whole-of-society approach and breaking the “panic-then-forget” cycle’. The high-level virtual event was co-hosted by Finland, France and Indonesia, along with the World Health Organization (WHO).

Past crises have shown that once an outbreak is under control, governments and donors tend to turn their attention to other pressing concerns. This cycle of “panic-then-forget” has prevented the development of effective health emergency preparedness across the globe. The world needs to break this cycle once and for all.

This week, the world crossed a grim milestone with over a million lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many more expected to have died from unprecedented disruptions to the health systems.

“Over the years we have had many reports, reviews and recommendations all saying the same thing: the world is not prepared for a pandemic. COVID-19 has laid bare the truth: when the time came, the world was still not ready,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, in his opening address. He called for investing in preparedness, with an all-of-government and all-of-society approach. “This will not be the last pandemic, nor the last global health emergency. But with the right political and financial investments now, we can advance health security, prevent and mitigate future pandemics, and protect our future and the future of generations to come,” he said...

Closing the event, Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme, appreciated the participants’ remarks, and asked for them to be met with sustained commitment to preparedness. “We cannot, cannot, cannot let the world forget because the next one may not be anything but the worst one,” he said. “This (COVID-19) may just be a harbinger of what may come, we are living with too much risk.”...

According to the report, investments in preparedness would only cost US$ 5 per person annually, whereas the cost of this pandemic is already over US$ 11 trillion and counting.


Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: