GENEVA, Switzerland – The World Health Organization, WHO, has issued a sobering call to global leaders and citizens alike to prepare for the possibility of a more devastating pandemic.
Speaking at the 76th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus highlighted the continuing threat of new and potentially more deadly diseases.
“The threat of another variant emerging that causes new surges of disease and death remains. And the threat of another pathogen emerging with even deadlier potential remains,” Dr. Ghebreyesus warned in his address on Monday, May 22, 2023.
His comments come in stark contrast to the relief felt worldwide following his announcement just weeks ago that COVID-19 was no longer considered a public health emergency of international concern.
The declaration signaled a long-awaited shift in global efforts from crisis management to recovery and rebuilding.
The WHO chief further emphasized the significance of this year’s High-Level Meeting on Pandemic Preparedness and Response as an invaluable opportunity for leaders worldwide.
“This year’s meeting is a valuable opportunity for leaders to chart a clear path forward towards that future,” he said.
“In a world of overlapping and converging crises, an effective architecture for health emergency preparedness and response must address emergencies of all kinds.”
Though the name or nature of the potential future disease was not mentioned, Dr. Ghebreyesus urged everyone to adopt an anticipatory approach to global health challenges.
He appealed for readiness from all corners of the globe, stating, “We must be ready to answer decisively, collectively, and equitably when the pandemic comes knocking”.
As the world grapples with the fallout from COVID-19, this new cautionary tone serves as a stark reminder of the need for continued vigilance, global cooperation, and advanced planning in the face of potential health emergencies.
Dr. Ghebreyesus’s warning underscores the criticality of global preparedness for emerging threats, underlining the urgent need for robust health infrastructure and coordinated efforts in safeguarding global public health.