World Health Organisation Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that the coronavirus pandemic won't be the last one and attempts to improve human health are doomed without tackling the two-pronged issue of climate change and animal welfare. He also criticised the 'dangerously short-sighted' cycle of throwing money at outbreaks and forgetting all about it.
"History tells us that this will not be the last pandemic, and epidemics are a fact of life... The pandemic has highlighted the intimate links between the health of humans, animals and planet... Any efforts to improve human health are doomed unless they address the critical interface between humans and animals, and the existential threat of climate change that's making our earth less habitable," said Ghebreyesus.
In a video message marking the first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness, Ghebreyesus said that it is time to learn lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. "For too long, the world has operated on a cycle of panic and neglect... We throw money at an outbreak, and when it's over, we forget about it and do nothing to prevent the next one. This is dangerously short-sighted, and frankly difficult to understand," he said.
The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board's September 2019 first annual report on global readiness for health emergencies that was released a few months before the pandemic broke out said that the planet was woefully underprepared for a potentially devastating pandemic.
Ghebreyesus said that the world has turned upside-down in the past 12 months. He pointed out that the impacts of the pandemic has gone far beyond the disease itself, with "far-reaching consequences for societies and economies". He added that the coronavirus pandemic should not have come as a surprise considering all the repeated warnings. "We must all learn the lessons the pandemic is teaching us," he said.
The WHO chief said that the countries must invest in preparedness capacities to prevent, detect and mitigate emergencies of all kinds and called for stronger primary health care provision. He said that through investments in public health countries can ensure children inherit a safer, more resilient and sustainable world.
(With agency inputs)