Speaking during a virtual media briefing on COVID-19 on Monday, the Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic.
He added that COVID-19 is teaching the world many lessons.
“One of them is that health is not a luxury item for those who can afford it; it’s a necessity, and a human right.
“Public health is the foundation of social, economic and political stability. That means investing in population-based services for preventing, detecting and responding to disease.
“This will not be the last pandemic. History teaches us that outbreaks and pandemics are a fact of life. But when the next pandemic comes, the world must be ready – more ready than it was this time.”
According to him, many countries have neglected their basic public health systems, which are the foundation for responding to infectious disease outbreaks.
He said part of every country’s commitment to build back better must be to invest in public health, as an investment in a healthier and safer future.
He noted that Thailand is reaping the benefits of 40 years of health system strengthening.
“A robust and well-resourced medical and public health system, allied with strong leadership informed by the best available scientific advice, a trained and committed community workforce with one million village health volunteers, and consistent and accurate communication, have built trust and increased public confidence and compliance.
“As you know, Italy was one of the first countries to experience a large outbreak outside China, and in many ways was a pioneer for other countries.
“Italy took hard decisions based on the evidence and persisted with them, which reduced transmission and saved many lives. National unity and solidarity, combined with the dedication and sacrifice of health workers, and the engagement of the Italian people, brought the outbreak under control,” the WHO chief said.
He said many countries that have done well in their responses to the pandemic learnt lessons from previous outbreaks of SARS, MERS, measles, polio, Ebola, flu and other diseases.
“That’s why it’s vital that we all learn the lessons this pandemic is teaching us,” he said.
He however called on all countries to invest in public health, and especially in primary health care.