ISSN 2330-717X

Preparing For Next Pandemic: Fear Can’t Be Motivation Says WHO Official


The recent Ebola epidemic challenged leaders of all nations and sectors and brought to light the need for resiliency and infrastructure to prevent and mitigate risks of future outbreaks.

“Dealing with epidemics presents growth, economic and stability issues,” said Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva. “The world is ill prepared. We need national and local capacity,” she added.

Strengthening surveillance and primary care are critical to building resiliency, said William H. Gates III, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USA. He pointed to the insights that technology can provide: “If we are serious about dealing with future epidemics, we must do simulations. Primary healthcare will be digitized in the next 10 years. This will be a huge benefit.”

There is shared recognition that slow action will not be an option moving forward. “The Ebola epidemic was difficult and complicated, but it was slow moving,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of The World Bank, Washington DC. “It is much more difficult to deal with fast-moving epidemics.”

“The motivation of fear that brought us together should not be our motivation in the future,” said Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Rome.

Addressing these issues will stretch beyond these discussions at the Annual Meeting 2016. The World Economic Forum is launching a two-year initiative to manage the risk and impact of future epidemics through optimized public-private cooperation under its newly formed Global Challenge Initiative on the Future of Health.

The initiative’s efforts will harness the capabilities of the healthcare, mining, telecommunications and mobility industries, among others, to work with national governments, international organizations and civil society to create solid, preventative action plans for emerging outbreaks.

“The Forum’s new Global Challenge Initiative on the Future of Health seeks to drive forward a critical transformation, putting health at the centre before healthcare is needed, with two pillars focused on health promotion and disease prevention. It’s imperative that across all sectors, stakeholders and nations, we find ways to allow healthy lives and health security for all,” said Arnaud Bernaert, Head of Global Health and Healthcare Industries at the World Economic Forum.

Ensuring healthy populations, and specifically addressing the challenge of epidemics, is a key topic explored at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting as part of a practical but ambitious agenda on health, growth and development for business leaders and policy-makers in 2016.

“As the international institution for public-private cooperation, the World Economic Forum is well positioned to mobilize change in resiliency planning for pandemics. Traditional preparedness and response measures have proven to be insufficient; mitigating the risk of outbreaks requires novel approaches and cross-sectoral solutions,” said Dominic Waughray, Head of Public-Private Partnership at the Forum.

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