Berlin/Vienna, 18 October 2023 – At the World Health Summit (WHS) global leaders warned that the world was still not fully protected from another pandemic like COVID-19.
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said, “We are in an era where health issues are a hot topic in politics, but they are not getting solved. We are not fully prepared to tackle the next worldwide pandemic.”
While WHS President, Axel Pries, highlighted that the world’s preparedness to deal with another outbreak was not sufficient on a global governance level, stating that, “Everyone says that if such a threat presents itself again, it will be worse than before.”
The annual event that takes place in Berlin hosted events around the Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response accord, which is currently being negotiated by World Health Organisation Member States.
The key negotiators of the Pandemic Accord, in the International Negotiating Body (INB), shared their cautious optimism during the World Health Summit. Steven Solomon, WHO’s Principal Legal Officer, stated, “If member states have the political will to agree on this treaty faster, then it is doable by May 2024.” He shared areas of focus towards operationalising equity within the instrument.
"After attending the WHS it was clear from keynote speakers, stakeholders and attendees that the level of ambition and focus of the Pandemic Agreement has to encompass prevention of outbreaks with pandemic potential via the One Health approach. This will require global cooperation on a scale like we have never seen before beyond with traditional public heath stakeholders. A science driven, holistic, collaborative approach rooted in protecting the most vulnerable communities' animals and the environment, is the way forward to preventing future pandemics and for the Pandemic Agreement."
Nina Jamal, FOUR PAWS Head of Pandemics
Jamal added, “We cannot wait. There are looming pandemics which we are completely unprepared for and if we do not tackle activities that drive outbreaks, we will continue to put humans and animals at risk. A paradigm shift in the way we treat animals should be at the very heart of a new global way of thinking on public health.”
The importance of following a One health approach to tackling global health challenges like pandemics was echoed by high level government speakers at the opening ceremony from keynote speakers such as Minister of Health and Family Welfare of India Dr. Bharati Parvin Pawar, Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety and Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Jamal concluded, “One Health and prevention at source should be treated as the key pillar of the agreement, instead of limiting them to single articles because prevention through a One Health approach offers a holistic and transformative pathway and the best chance to achieving equity and averting the spillover of dangerous diseases to vulnerable communities, if fully integrated into the instrument.”
The World Health Summit took place in Berlin, Germany and online from 15-17 October under the theme "A Defining Year for Global Health Action".
Central topics at the World Health Summit 2023 included:
- learning from COVID-19 for future pandemic prevention;
- preparedness and response;
- recommitting to universal health coverage;
- sustainable health for people and planet;
- G7/G20 measures to enhance global health equity and security;
- harnessing the power of digital technologies for global health;
- the World Health Organization’s 75th anniversary; and
- innovations to accelerate the fight against tuberculosis.
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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org