New Delhi: A global pandemic preparedness panel, in its new report, has said that financial and political investments in preparing for the pandemic have been insufficient, and we are all paying the price.
The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), which released its report called A World in Disorder Monday, provided a “harsh assessment” of the global Covid-19 response, warning that the world cannot afford to be unprepared again when the next pandemic hits. The report stated that health emergency preparedness remains siloed in many countries and extended very little beyond public health systems.
The GPMB is co-convened by the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), and co-chaired by former WHO director-general and former PM of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland.
“Covid-19 requires a comprehensive response, encompassing health, mental health and psychosocial support, education, and other aspects of the social and economic sectors. However, countries and organizations have not sufficiently addressed these dimensions in their preparedness planning and have not established the appropriate systems and procedures to manage these disruptions,” it said.
The board had also released a report named ‘A World at Risk’ in September 2019, warning of the very real threat of “a rapidly spreading pandemic due to a lethal respiratory pathogen”. The report had called for the need for “determined political leadership at national and global levels” to prepare the world for health emergencies.
“Progress in implementing these actions has been limited. It is not as if the world has lacked the opportunity to take these steps. There have been numerous calls for action in these areas over the last decade, yet none have generated the changes needed,” it said.
Failure of leadership
The report stated that the pandemic has exposed “a collective failure to take pandemic prevention, preparedness and response seriously and prioritize it accordingly.”
“The pandemic is providing a harsh test of the world’s preparedness. The Board concludes that little progress has been made on any of the actions called for in last year’s report and that this lack of leadership is exacerbating the pandemic.”
It said that the failure to learn the lessons of Covid-19, or to act on them with the necessary resources and commitment, will mean that the next pandemic, “which is sure to come, will be even more damaging”.
Need 500 years to recover losses
The report also flagged concerns over financial insecurity in terms of preparing for the pandemic. According to the report, it would take 500 years to recover the losses due to Covid-19 and invest in health security.
“The return on investment for global health security is immense. Expenditures for prevention and preparedness are measured in billions of dollars, the cost of a pandemic in trillions. It would take 500 years to spend as much on investing in preparedness as the world is losing due to Covid-19,” it stated.
The report mentioned that to fund the Covid response, over USD 11 trillion dollars have been spent and there is a possibility of future loss of USD 10 trillion in earnings.
The board called for five urgent areas that need action: responsible leadership, engaged citizenship, strong and agile systems for health security, sustained investment and robust global governance of preparedness.
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