Director-General of the World Health Organization Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Geneva: The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, issued a warning that the world must get ready for the next pandemic, which might be "even deadlier" than the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when COVID cases are somewhat stabilising around the world.
"The end of COVID-19 as a global health emergency is not the end of COVID-19 as a global health threat," Mr Tedros said.
"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."
The head of the WHO said this as he presented his report to the 76th World Health Assembly.
Furthermore, in the face of overlapping and converging crises, "pandemics are far from the only threat we face", he added, underscoring the need for effective global mechanisms that address and respond to emergencies of all kinds.
"When the next pandemic comes knocking-and it will-we must be ready to answer decisively, collectively, and equitably," he advised.
Tedros said COVID-19 had significant implications for health-related targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have a deadline of 2030.
The pandemic also affected progress towards the Triple Billion targets, announced at the 2017 World Health Assembly.
The five-year initiative calls for ensuring one billion more people have universal health coverage, a billion more are better protected from health emergencies, and another billion more enjoy better health and wellbeing.
"The pandemic has blown us off course, but it has shown us why the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) must remain our north star, and why we must pursue them with the same urgency and determination with which we countered the pandemic," he said.