Bozkır: We have to intensify preparedness to avoid similar suffering from future endemics
Volkan Bozkır, Presiden of the United Nations General Assembly, released a message on the International Epidemic Preparedness Day.
His message reads as follows:
Today, we commemorate the first ever observance of International Epidemic Preparedness Day, which was proclaimed earlier this month by the General Assembly. If we ready ourselves, then we can save lives and stop epidemics from developing into pandemics. As we continue to battle COVID-19, and in light of the devastating experience we lived through in 2020, the benefits of tackling epidemics have never been clearer.
This is not the first time the world has been threatened by an infectious disease. Together we have faced many, including avian influenza, Ebola, malaria, MERS, SARS, swine influenza, tuberculosis and Zika. Global pandemics are also not new. Over a century ago, the 1918 influenza pandemic, also known as the ‘Spanish flu’, infected one third of all humanity. Just as our predecessors were not ready in 1918, neither were we in 2020. Despite much socio-economic and scientific progress, the lessons of the past remained unlearned.
The coronavirus pandemic must be our final warning. We cannot afford to be complacent, and we must learn from our mistakes. We have the tools to prevent epidemics and ultimately pandemics. The United Nations system, and particularly the World Health Organization, is well placed to raise awareness, foster information-sharing and coordinate multilateral responses that will protect our most vulnerable, including women, who make up the majority of the world’s health workers.
As the world marks International Epidemic Preparedness Day for the first time, I invite you to join me. Together we will trust in science and support the establishment of early warning mechanisms. We will stand together in solidarity. And we will prepare as we have never prepared before – so that epidemics and pandemics can no longer cause the kind of suffering we have seen across the globe this year.