OUTBREAKS such as the ongoing Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo can happen anywhere, World Health Organisation director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned.
In a message issued by WHO communications officer Fadela Chaib, the organisation, in collaboration with the World Bank Group, have launched a new mechanism to strengthen global health security through stringent independent monitoring and regular reporting of preparedness to tackle outbreaks, pandemics, and other emergencies with health consequences.
“The ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a stark reminder that outbreaks can happen anywhere, at any time,” Dr Tedros said.
He added that part of being prepared is having a means of assessing progress made at all levels, by all actors, identifying gaps,
including in financing, and making sure all actors are working together, pulling in the same direction.
“I’m proud of the work we’ve done together with the World Bank Group to establish the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), and delighted that it will be led by such exceptional global health leaders,” said Dr Tedros.
And World Bank Group President Dr Jim Yong Kim said for too long, there had been a cycle of panic and neglect when it comes to pandemics.
“We ramp up efforts when there’s a serious threat, then quickly forget about them when the threat subsides…with the GPMB, we’re taking a large step towards breaking that cycle. The GPMB will help save lives, prevent economic damage, and ensure that we keep pandemic preparedness at the top of the global agenda,” Dr Kim said.
And the GPMB co-chaired by Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, who is the former Prime Minister of Norway and also former WHO Director General, said the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo reminded him of the 2014-15 West African outbreak.
“The Board will monitor preparedness activities on a global scale, and will hold all actors, from private and public sectors, accountable for building essential public health capacities, generating sustainable financing and ensuring that necessary research and development is conducted,” Dr Brundtland said.
International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies secretary general Elhadj As Sy said the pandemic preparedness must be as much local as global, and must engage local communities in preparedness, detection, response and recovery to disease outbreaks.
“I warmly welcome the launch of this Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, and commit to partner with you all. We all need to be accountable to each other on the promises we make, and the results we achieve,” said Sy