- The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the most robust public health systems worldwide
- Global discussions call for preparedness for any next pandemic
- These 7 countries can offer lessons to the rest of the world according to WHO
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization Director-General, has issued a stark warning about the work needed to prepare the world for future pandemics.
“This will not be the last pandemic,” he told a media briefing. “History teaches us that outbreaks and pandemics are a fact of life. But when the next pandemic comes, the world must be ready – more ready than it was this time.”
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, while speaking at the media briefing, highlighted seven countries, amongst many, whose preparation and response offer lessons for the rest of the world in how to deal with a global pandemic. These countries include Italy, Pakistan, Thailand, Mongolia, Mauritius and Uruguay.
Italy was one of the first countries to experience a large outbreak outside of China, said Dr Tedros. It “took hard decisions based on the evidence and persisted with them”. Unity and solidarity, along with the dedication of health workers, helped bring the outbreak under control, he explained.
“Pakistan has used the infrastructure it developed in its fight against polio to tackle COVID-19″, said the Director-General. He added, “Community health workers, previously used to vaccinate children for polio, have been redeployed for contact tracing and monitoring.”
Thailand has benefited from 40 years of health system strengthening, he explained. A well-resourced medical and public health system is supported by strong leadership. Coupled with 1 million village health volunteers, and strong communication, the nation has built trust and compliance and confidence among the general population, he said.
Mongolia also reacted quickly. It activated its State Emergency Committee in January and didn’t report a case until January and still has no reported deaths.
Mauritius used previous experience with contact-tracing and a swift response to overcome high-risk issues – high population density, high rate of non-communicable diseases and lots of international travellers.
Uruguay has one of Latin America’s most ‘robust and resilient’ health systems in Latin America, explained Dr. Tedros. Sustainable investments in public health were built on political consensus, he added.
There are many other countries who’ve done well, added Dr. Tedros. From Japan to New Zealand and Vietnam, many countries have fared better because of lessons learned during previous outbreaks of disease, such as SARS or Ebola.
Dr. Tedros called on countries to invest in public health, as a “foundation of social, economic and political stability”. Having learned the lessons of previous pandemics, it’s therefore “vital that we learn the lessons this pandemic is teaching us,” he concluded.
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