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World must prepare for even deadlier diseases than covid 19, says WHO chief

WHO chief says covid-19 is not over yet and urges member states that it's time to advance negotiations to prevent the next pandemic.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo: Bloomberg

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo: Bloomberg

Sudeep Singh Rawat New Delhi

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World Health Organisation chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned the world to be ready for future viruses that could be much deadlier than Covid 19.

Dr Tedros, in the annual health assembly in Geneva, speaks about the impact of Covid 19 left and how it's not even over yet. He also raises the alarm about the threat of another pathogen emerging with even deadlier potential.

His speech also addresses the essence of effective architecture for health emergency preparedness, and response must address emergencies of all kinds.

WHO chief alarms to be prepared for future emergencies as he says, "We cannot kick this can down the road." 

"If we do not make the changes that must be made, then who will? And if we do not make them now, then when?" says Dr Tedros.

He further added, "When the next pandemic comes knocking – and it will – we must be ready to answer decisively, collectively and equitably."

The WHO director-general also speaks up about the significance of the World Health Organisation. He said the Covid-19 pandemic has had significant implications for health-related targets in sustainable development goals.

According to the WHO chief, more than 1 billion people are enjoying better health since 2018, and more than 477 million people are enjoying Universal Health Coverage.

He also stated, "And on emergencies, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that it’s not 1 billion people but 8 billion people who need to be better protected."

The WHO director-general also mentioned that the pandemic has blown the organisation off course. He further added that the SDGs must remain the North Star. The covid-19 pandemic also made us realise why we must pursue them with the same urgency and determination with which we countered the pandemic, says Dr Tedros.

In the final minutes of his speech, he said, "I urge every Member State to engage constructively and urgently in negotiations on the pandemic accord and the International Health Regulations, so the world will never again have to face the devastation of a pandemic like COVID-19. "

The 10-day annual World Health Assembly is taking place in Geneva. As it coincides with the 75th anniversary of WHO, hence it is set to address global health challenges, including future pandemics, eradicating polio and supporting steps to ease Ukraine's health emergency triggered by Russia's invasion.

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First Published: May 24 2023 | 12:16 PM IST

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