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‘We throw money at a pandemic, and then forget about it’: WHO’s new warning

The coronavirus crisis will not be the last pandemic, the World Health Organisation’s chief said on Saturday. Any attempts to improve human health are “doomed”, he added, if climate change and animal welfare are not addressed immediately. 

“For too long, the world has operated on a cycle of panic and neglect,” director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “History tells us that this will not be the last pandemic, and epidemics are a fact of life,” he added.

 

In a video message marking Sunday’s first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness, he said that it was time to learn the lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic. He also condemned the “dangerously short-sighted” measures of using cash to offset outbreaks without bolstering preparation. 

“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.”

The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board’s first annual report published in September 2019 outlines our global readiness to respond to health emergencies. It found that the planet was woefully unprepared for potentially devastating pandemics.

“The pandemic has highlighted the intimate links between the health of humans, animals and planet,” he added.

“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,” he said.

Tedros urged all countries to invest in preparedness capacities to prevent, detect and mitigate emergencies of all kinds, along with uplifting public health institutions. With this, “we can ensure that our children and their children inherit a safer, more resilient and more sustainable world”.