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The global health crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic coming to an end does not signify the complete eradication of the virus as a global health threat, as cautioned by Tedros Adhanam Ghebreyesus, the Director and General of the World Health Organization (WHO). During his speech at the 76th World Health Assembly on Monday, Tedros emphasized that the risk of a new variant emerging and causing fresh waves of illness and fatalities still persists. Additionally, he expressed his concern regarding the potential emergence of a new pathogens with even more deadly characteristics.
Tedros emphasized the importance of prioritizing discussions on preventing future pandemics, a matter he brought up weeks after lifting the global emergency status attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic. He called for resolute, collective, and fair action when the next pandemic inevitably arises. Tedros also underscored the significant impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the health-related goals outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the “triple billion” targets. The triple billion targets, established in 2017, aim to achieve universal health coverage for an additional one billion people, provide enhanced protection from health emergencies for another billion, and ensure improved health and well-being for an additional billion within a five-year timeframe.
Moreover, the pandemic has highlighted the urgent need to bolster emergency preparedness for the global population of eight billion individuals. Tedros acknowledged that the pandemic has disrupted progress but emphasized the importance of upholding the SDGs as our guiding principles. He called for immediate and constructive negotiations on a new global agreement for pandemics and the International Health Regulations, the treaty that governs preparedness and response to health emergencies. His objective is to prevent the world from ever enduring the catastrophic consequences of a pandemic like Covid-19 in the future.