Red Cross report finds all countries ‘dangerously unprepared’ for next pandemic, as COVID remains a public health emergency
The world is “dangerously unprepared” for future pandemics, according to the Red Cross, which is urging countries to update their plans this year.
Key points: Expert says next pandemic ‘could be just around the corner’ Red Cross recommends increasing global health funding by at least $21 billion a year COVID-19 continues to be considered a public health emergency of international concern
In its World Disasters Report 2022, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said “all countries remain dangerously unprepared for future outbreaks” despite COVID-19.
“The next pandemic could be just around the corner,” said Jagan Chapagain, secretary general of the IFRC.
“If the experience of COVID-19 will not accelerate our steps towards preparedness, what will?
“There will be no excuse for a continued lack of preparedness after going through three terrible years.”
The report said countries should review their legislation to ensure it is in line with their pandemic preparedness plans by the end of 2023.
It recommended adopting a new treaty and revising international health regulations by next year, which would invest more in the preparedness of local communities.
It also recommends that countries increase domestic health financing by 1 percent of gross domestic product and global health financing by at least $21 billion per year.
Mr Chapagain said it would be a “good investment to make”.
“The important thing is that there has to be a political will to commit to it,” he said.
“If it’s there, it’s possible.”
Health emergency alert remains for COVID-19
Meanwhile, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 is still a public health emergency of international concern.
The pandemic is likely in a “transition point” that still requires careful management to “mitigate the potential negative effects”, the agency said on Monday.
It has been three years since the WHO first declared that COVID represented a global health emergency.
More than 6.8 million people died during the outbreak.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said he hoped to see an end to the state of emergency this year, especially if access to vaccines and treatments could be improved worldwide.
“We remain hopeful that in the coming year the world will transition to a new phase in which we reduce [COVID] hospitalizations and deaths to their lowest possible level,” he said.