Geneva: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned all countries to gird up for the next pandemic which could be "even deadlier" than coronavirus. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who had recently announced that the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer a public health emergency, however, underscored that this downgrade does not mean that it has ceased to be a global health threat.
"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," he said in an address to the 76th World Health Assembly on Monday.
COVID-19 may no longer be a global public health emergency, but countries must still strengthen their response to the disease and prepare for future pandemics and other threats, so that when the next pandemic arises, a decisive and collective response is in place, he said. Ghebreyesus also reminded the world that in the face of overlapping crises, "pandemics are far from the only threat we face".
Under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have a 2030 deadline, the COVID-19 pandemic had significant implications for health-related targets, and also impacted the progress made toward the Triple Billion target, announced at the 2017 World Health Assembly. "The pandemic has blown us off the course, but it has shown us why the SDGs must remain our north star, and why we must pursue them with the same urgency and determination with which we countered the pandemic," the WHO chief said.