Past crises have shown that once an outbreak is under control, governments and donors tend to turn their attention to other pressing concerns. This cycle of “panic-then-forget” has prevented the development of effective health emergency preparedness across the globe.
This was the strong sentiment shared by participants of the United Nations General Assembly side-event on ‘Sustainable preparedness for health security and resilience: Adopting a whole-of-society approach and breaking the “panic-then-forget” cycle’. This was co-hosted by Finland, France and Indonesia, along with the World Health Organization (WHO).
In his opening address, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for investing in preparedness, with an all-of-government and all-of-society approach.
“Over the years we have had many reports, reviews and recommendations all saying the same thing: the world is not prepared for a pandemic. COVID-19 has laid bare the truth: when the time came, the world was still not ready,
“This will not be the last pandemic, nor the last global health emergency. But with the right political and financial investments now, we can advance health security, prevent and mitigate future pandemics, and protect our future and the future of generations to come,” he said.
According to WHO this week, the world crossed a grim milestone with over a million lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many more expected to have died from unprecedented disruptions to the health systems.