Get Ready to Face the Next Pandemic: UN Chief

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré (file)
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré (file)

Mr Guterres delivered his message for the first observance of the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness.

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said that the world must get prepared to face the next pandemic as it is struggling to deal with the current Covid-19. “As we strive to control and recover from the current pandemic, we must think about the next,” Mr Guterres said in his message for the first observance of the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness on December 27.

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 home like never before.

“We can already draw many lessons from the experiences of the past year,” he said. “Preparedness is a sound investment, costing far less than emergency expenditures. Societies need stronger health systems, including universal health coverage. People and families need more social protection.”

He added that there is a need to pay greater attention to the encroachment of people and livestock into animal habitats; 75 per cent of new and emerging human infectious diseases are zoonotic.

“The United Nations system, including the World Health Organization, 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,” Mr Guterres said in his message.

This International Day falls on the birth-date of Louis Pasteur, the French biologist responsible for ground-breaking work on vaccinations. “In honoring his work, I salute today’s medical professionals, front-line personnel, and essential workers who have carried the world through this emergency with such remarkable commitment,” Mr Guterres said.

“As we recover from the pandemic, let us resolve to build up our prevention capacities so that we are ready when the world faces the next outbreak,” he suggested in his message.

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Rakesh Raman