Sat. Jan 23rd, 2021

World marks first-ever International Day of Epidemic Preparedness amid relentless Covid-19 spread

Coronavirus is continuing its spread across the world with almost 80 million confirmed cases in 190 countries and more than 1.7 million deaths.

world marks first ever international day of epidemic preparedness amid relentless covid 19 spread - World marks first-ever International Day of Epidemic Preparedness amid relentless Covid-19 spread

This Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted severe fragilities and inequalities within and among nations, the UN has said marking the world’s first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness.

The virus is surging in many regions and countries that had apparent success in suppressing initial outbreaks are also seeing infections rise again.

The UN said the COVID-19 pandemic is more than a health crisis: “it is an economic crisis, a humanitarian crisis, a security crisis, and a human rights crisis.”

“Coming out of this crisis will require a whole-of-society, whole-of-government, and whole-of-the-world approach driven by compassion and solidarity.”

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Source:John Hopkins University, public health agencies. (24 December 2020)

Devastating impacts

As exemplified by the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, major infectious diseases and epidemics have devastating impacts on human lives, wreaking havoc on long-term social and economic development, the UN pointed out.

It added that the global health crises threaten to overwhelm already overstretched health systems, disrupt global supply chains, and cause disproportionate devastation of the livelihoods of people, including women and children, and the economies of the poorest and most vulnerable countries.

“There is an urgent need to have resilient and robust health systems, reaching those who are vulnerable or in vulnerable situations.”

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The UN warned that in the absence of international attention, future epidemics could surpass previous outbreaks in terms of intensity and gravity.

“There is great need of raising awareness, the exchange of information, scientific knowledge and best practices, quality education, and advocacy programmes on epidemics at the local, national, regional and global levels as effective measures to prevent and respond to epidemics.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said history tells us that COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic.

It is important to raise the level of preparedness in order to have the earliest and most adequate response to any epidemic that may arise, the UN said, noting the importance of also recognizing the value of an integrated One Health approach that fosters integration of human health, animal health, and plant health, as well as environmental and other relevant sectors.

International cooperation

“We need to stress the significance of partnership and solidarity among every individual, community, and State, and regional and international organizations, in all stages of epidemic management, as well as the importance of considering a gender perspective in this regard.”

The UN added that the the indispensable contribution of relevant stakeholders, especially women, who make up the majority of the world’s health workers, needed to be recognized.

“UN member states must commit to ensuring inclusive, equal, and non-discriminatory participation, with special attention to those, who are vulnerable or in vulnerable situations with the highest chance of epidemic infection.”

The UN General Assembly said all Member States, UN organizations, other global organizations, the private sector and civil society, should observe the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness in an appropriate manner and in accordance with national contexts and priorities.

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