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The best time to stop the next pandemic is now: Countries shake up their voices for better emergency preparedness

COVID-19 will not be the last health emergency in the world and permanent health emergency preparedness is urgently needed to deal with the next one.

This was a strong sentiment shared by the participants of the UN General Assembly on ‘Sustainable Preparedness for Health Security and Resilience: Adopting Whole Society’s Approach and Breaking the “Terror-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 the outbreak is under control, governments and donors turn their attention to other pressing concerns. This cycle of “terror-then-error” has stopped the development of effective health emergency preparedness around the world. The world needs to break this cycle once and for all.

This week, the world crossed a serious milestone with more than one million lives lost in the COVID-19 pandemic, and many more are expected to have died from unprecedented disruption in health systems.

“Over the years we have had many reports, reviews and recommendations that say the same thing: The world is not ready for an epidemic. COVID-19 has bare the truth: when the time came, the world was still not ready, ”Dr. Tedros Adnom Ghebayeus, the Director General of WHO said in his opening speech. He called for investment in preparedness with a view to the government and all society. “This will not be the last pandemic, nor the last global health emergency. But now with the right political and financial investment, we can advance health security, prevent and mitigate future epidemics, and protect the future and our future for generations to come.

The countries spoke of their commitment to health emergency preparedness. “We know that preparedness makes economic sense, and we have developed tools and models for multi-sectoral cooperation. Learning from epidemics and building on past progress should guide our steps to strengthen health security and Thus should help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, ”said Paul Sillinauki, Ambassador for Health and Welfare, Republic of Finland.

“There is an urgent need to leverage COVID-19’s response to building, maintaining and strengthening sustainable public health capabilities for emergency preparedness […] France strongly believes that preparedness should be placed very high on the foreign policy agenda and we are keen to increase cooperation between member states to ensure continued visibility of the subject, whether in Geneva or in New York. At the United Nations, “said Stephanie. Seydoux, Global Health, Ambassador of the French Republic.

Health emergency preparedness is part of the larger vision of health for all. In his speech, the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Retno LP Marsudi, reminded the participants that “the investment we must now make at the national level is ensuring affordable health care for all.” Let us ask ourselves, how many times have we heard about people being deprived of much-needed medical health care due to cost…. The issue of affordable health care for all is foreign policy and president of Indonesia’s President of Global Health There is initiative in the heart. “

The Health Ministers of the Netherlands, Oman, Senegal and Singapore were sharing their countries experience with COVID-19. Speaking on the issue were the coordinators of the group’s African Ambassadors in Geneva, and the Deputy Director General of Germany, Federal Foreign Office. The discussion was led by Hasan Kleb, the Ambassador of Indonesia in Geneva.

Mr. Francesco Rocca was the President of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) for the role of community empowerment. He said his organization learned from working with its network of respondents in 192 countries that there was an urgent need to invest in preparedness at the community level, “promoting humanitarian action to be as local as possible.” […] We invest in community level preparedness from governments, partners and donors to save lives and victims in the next mandatory emergency. ”

The role of parliaments and the importance of a multilateral approach were highlighted by Martin Martin Chungong, parliamentary general secretary. The International Association of National Public Health Institutes, and the European Commission’s Directorate General for Development and Cooperation emphasized the important role played by partner organizations in country and global preparedness and financing.

The Mayor of Geneva, Mr. Sami Kanan, emphasized all perspectives of society. “Local governments should not be provided with the means to implement policies. They need to be involved in international debates that ultimately solve humanity’s most pressing challenges, ”he said.

The Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergency Program, Drs. Michael Ryan appreciated the participants’ comments, and asked them to meet with a continued commitment to preparedness. “We can’t, don’t forget the world because the next one may be nothing but the worst one,” he said. “This (COVID-19) may be a precursor to what may come right now, we are living with much greater risk.”

This event marked significant interactions between countries, donors, and partners that build better for future emergency preparedness during the current COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. This comes on the heels of the issuance of a courageous report by the Global Preparedness and Monitoring Board which also called for immediate action in this area.

According to the report, investment in preparedness will cost only US $ 5 per person per year, while the cost of this epidemic is already US $ 11 trillion and above.

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