Global preparedness for pandemics still lacking, warns WHO Chief

Dubai:  Speaking at the World Government Summit, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), stressed the pressing need for international collaboration in tackling health crises, particularly in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

During his address, Ghebreyesus highlighted the WHO’s initiatives and stressed the importance of global support for its efforts. He specifically referenced the COP 28 UAE Declaration on Climate and Health, signed by 147 nations, which underscores the critical connection between climate change and public health.

Furthermore, Ghebreyesus commended the pivotal role played by the WHO global logistics hub in Dubai, which has facilitated the distribution of medical supplies to over 81 countries, including regions in crisis such as Gaza.

However, despite advancements in various aspects, such as surveillance and vaccine development, Ghebreyesus cautioned that the world’s readiness for future pandemics remains inadequate. He called for the development of a comprehensive international agreement on pandemic preparedness, stressing the need for unity and cooperation among nations.

Addressing challenges hindering progress towards such an agreement, Ghebreyesus highlighted unresolved issues among countries and the spread of misinformation as significant obstacles. He clarified that the agreement does not grant the WHO power over sovereign states but rather reaffirms national sovereignty while promoting collaboration to strengthen health systems and resource-sharing.

Ghebreyesus urged policymakers and leaders to seize the opportunity to safeguard the health of future generations, emphasising collective responsibility to build a healthier, safer, and fairer world. Despite the progress made, challenges persist, and Ghebreyesus concluded his speech with a call to prioritize equity, solidarity, and collaboration in preventing future pandemics and ensuring global health security.

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