Prepare for future pandemics, WHO chief says in stark end-of-year message

Washington: The world needs to properly prepare for future pandemics after three years of Covid “crisis, pain and loss”, the head of the World Health Organisation said in his end-of-year message, as per news agency AFP. World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said 2023 had marked a turning point in fighting major health challenges as it brought “immense and avoidable suffering” throughout the world.

Calling for ramped-up relief efforts for the Gaza Strip, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries around the world to work on a “monumental” pandemic accord to plug preparedness gaps. These foibles were exposed during the Covid pandemic in the world, he said.

“This marked a turning point for the world following three years of crisis, pain and loss for people everywhere,” he recalled in a video message, adding, “I’m glad to see that life has returned to normal.”

Tedros said Azerbaijan, Belize and Tajikistan were declared malaria-free while the world should be more concerned about the health impacts of climate change which featured prominently at COP28.

“2023 has also been a year of immense and avoidable suffering and threats to health,” he said as he spoke of the “barbaric” Hamas attacks on Israel, “followed by the unleashing of a devastating attack on Gaza.”

“Relief efforts are not coming close to meeting the needs of people in Gaza,” he said, warning that a resurgence of cholera, with a record number of 40-plus outbreaks around the world, is also “especially concerning.”

“But 2024 offers a unique opportunity to address these gaps,” he said, explaining that a “pandemic accord is being designed to bridge the gaps in global collaboration, cooperation and equity.”

Image courtesy of X@DrTedros

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