FILE PHOTO: World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference in Geneva
FILE - World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, July 3, 2020.

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - The World Health Organization is urging nations to prepare for inevitable future pandemics, as it marks the first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness.

“If we fail to prepare, we are preparing to fail. … Last year, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board published its first report, which concluded, the world remains dangerously unprepared for a global pandemic,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

In a video statement to launch the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness, Tedros warns nations against lurching from one outbreak to another while doing nothing to prepare and prevent this from happening.  He calls this dangerously shortsighted.

A year after being detected in Wuhan, China, the coronavirus has spread widely. The impact on the world’s health and economic well-being has been devastating.

Latest World Health Organization figures put the number of global infections at more than 80 million cases, including over 1.7 million deaths.

Despite these grim statistics, the development of efficacious and safe vaccines is raising hopes the COVID-19 pandemic will be relegated to the history books in the coming months.  While Tedros shares these hopes, he advises people to temper their optimism.

“History tells us that this will not be the last pandemic and epidemics are a fact of life …All countries must invest in preparedness capacities to prevent, detect and mitigate emergencies of all kinds—whether they be natural occurring epidemics or deliberate events,” he said.

The WHO chief said the only way to defeat the current outbreak and prepare for the next is for all countries to work together in a spirit of solidarity.  This, he adds, means involving and respecting the needs of all nations — rich and poor alike.