UNITED NATIONS, Sep 19 (APP): The World Health Organization (WHO), a Geneva-based UN agency, has said that coronavirus has shown that collectively, the world was woefully under-prepared to combat the pandemic.
Speaking during the virtual media briefing on COVID-19 from Geneva, the Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, however, said with the right political and financial commitment and investment now, the world can prevent and mitigate future pandemics.
The WHO chief said since the turn of the Millennium, SARS, MERS, H1N1, Zika and Ebola have all demonstrated the increasing occurrences of viruses making the zoonotic leap from animals to humans.
“The preparedness board was set up two years ago by the WHO and the World Bank to break the cycle of panic and neglect, which we have seen through multiple disease outbreaks,” Tedros said.
“There has been a recurring pattern of money being thrown at outbreaks when they’re already in full flow but then funds no longer being available to prevent the next outbreak,” he said.
“Reviews and reports are only as good as the recommendations that are implemented. COVID-19 has shown that collectively, the world was woefully underprepared,” WHO chief added.
“But with humility and togetherness, we can plan for the long-term, and invest in health and preparedness. This isn’t charity, it’s an investment in our collective future.”
He urged all countries to ensure that recommendations are taken seriously.
“This pandemic has shown that whether countries are rich or poor, health systems can be completely overwhelmed and essential services can break down,” Tedros said.
“As I said, many of those countries that responded well have learned from previous outbreaks.”
The WHO chief noted that from endless warnings about the world being under-prepared, all countries need to dig in together and invest to ensure a pandemic of this magnitude and severity never happens again.
“With the right political and financial commitment and investment now, we can prevent and mitigate future pandemics.
“In a world that is heating up and where intensified human activity is shrinking wild spaces, the likelihood of spillover of a novel pathogen from animals to humans is increasing.”
The WHO chief added that the world is seeing cases and deaths starting to spike and concerns about the potential lack of hospital capacity as some countries start to open up.
“This is a critical moment for countries and we ask leaders to put targeted measures in place that we know can suppress the spread and ensure that health systems and workers are protected.
“For people also, we ask you to continue to do the basics. Physical distancing, hand washing, mask-wearing, coughing and sneezing safely away from others, avoiding crowds and keeping windows and doors open when you can’t meet friends and family outside. Do it all,” Tedros said.