The United Nations commemorated the first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness on Sunday December 27, 2020, underscoring the need to learn lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic, and urging greater investments in preparedness, to confront future health emergencies.
“This first observance of the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness falls at the end of a year in which a scenario many had feared came tragically true. As we strive to control and recover from the current pandemic, we must think about the next,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a message.
He also highlighted the need for strong health systems and social protection, support for communities on the frontlines, and technical cooperation for countries.
“Across this work, science must be our guide. Solidarity and coordination are crucial, within and among countries; no one is safe unless all of us are safe,” the Secretary-General added.
He also honoured medical professionals, front-line personnel and essential workers globally for their “remarkable commitment” in face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As we recover from the pandemic, let us resolve to build up our prevention capacities so that we are ready when the world faces the next outbreak,” he urged.
The UN stated that global health crises threaten to overwhelm the already overstretched health systems, disrupt global supply chains and cause disproportionate devastation of the livelihoods of people, including women and children, and the economies of the poorest and most vulnerable countries.
“There is an urgent need to have resilient and robust health systems, reaching those who are vulnerable or in vulnerable situations,” the UN general assembly noted.
The international body also said that in the event of the absence of international attention, future epidemics could surpass previous outbreaks in terms of intensity and gravity.
“There is great need of raising awareness, the exchange of information, scientific knowledge and best practices, quality education, and advocacy programmes on epidemics at the local, national, regional and global levels as effective measures to prevent and respond to epidemics,” the Assembly officials advised.