Local, Regional, National Governments Must Prioritize, Invest More In Disease Outbreak Preparedness, GPMB Co-Chairs Write

Project Syndicate: Preventing the Next Pandemic
Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway and former WHO director general, and Elhadj As Sy, secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, both co-chairs of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board

“…[A] new report by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board warns that humankind is stumbling toward the twenty-first-century equivalent of the 1918 influenza pandemic, which affected one-third of the world’s population and killed approximately 50 million people. … And yet, despite the threat that this and other health emergencies pose to global security, preparing for them is rarely a priority for political leaders. … To be sure, we have already developed many of the tools we need to prevent, treat, and contain disease, including vaccines, diagnostics, and drugs. But world leaders are not doing enough to scale them up. And if a pandemic erupts, it will be too late to avoid serious damage to communities. … For too long, health emergencies have been met with a cycle of panic and neglect — an approach that is highly inefficient and expensive — and that is putting all of us at growing risk. Governments worldwide must start thinking ahead and increase funding at the community, national, and international levels to shore up health systems, improve our capacity to respond to health emergencies, and prevent the spread of outbreaks, whether of known pathogens like Ebola or unknown ones, say, that spread from animals to humans…” (10/21).