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Is the world ready for another pandemic?

Is the world ready for another pandemic? The answer is no. Although the next one could be “just around the corner” and that covid should have been a wake-up call for the global community, there is still much to be done.

These are some of the conclusions of two reports drawn up by the network of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)the world’s largest disaster response network, on how prepared countries are if another pandemic strikes.

The IFRC warns that throughout history no earthquake, drought or hurricane has claimed more lives than the covid pandemic, which has caused more than 6.5 million deaths worldwide, which has made the humanitarian organization delve into how countries can prepare for another global emergency.


Red Cross and Red Crescent teams have documented how the pandemic exacerbated inequalities. Poor sanitation, overcrowding, lack of access to social and health services and malnutrition “create the conditions for diseases to spread faster and further”.

For these entities, the world must address unequal socioeconomic and health vulnerabilities “long before the next crisis.”

Another pandemic 1
Photo provided by Red Cross

Both documents, the World Report on Disasters and the Everyone Counts Reportthey provide insight into the successes and challenges of these past three years while making a series of recommendations to world leaders on how to mitigate the effects of another pandemic and another tragedy of similar magnitude in the future.

Another pandemic could be around the corner

The World Disaster Report 2022 focuses on the coronavirus pandemic and its inadequate preparedness, but also on how the world can prepare most effectively.

It covers the prevention, response and recovery of an emergency like another pandemic, as it maintains that simply by being prepared, lives can be saved.

“Could the next one be right around the corner: if the experience of COVID-19 doesn’t accelerate our steps towards preparation, what will?” he says.

The document states that countries were not prepared for covid, either because they did not have a plan for a public health emergency of this magnitude or because they had cut health systems.

Suspension of countries

In this regard, he asserts that those who were able to face the pandemic better were because they had built resilient health systems and social care networks, and had also learned from previous outbreaks of coronavirus, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). , in 2003.

These are countries that obviously also had difficulties to face it but had a mattress that others did not have, according to the report.

“At the time of writing, all countries remain dangerously unprepared for future outbreaks,” the document notes. Although the pandemic showed the need to be ready, “they are not ready”.

As an example, the Global Health Security Index 2021 looked at 195 countries across six categories of health emergency preparedness, including detection, response and social norms. The bottom line was that none were ready for other pandemics.

Out of 100, no country scored above 80, in fact the global average was 38.9. “Almost exactly the same” as the last one in 2019, indicating that there has been no real improvement in this regard.

Multiple dangers, not just one

The International Federation’s report also emphasizes that true preparedness means being ready for multiple hazards, not just one. In this sense, he considers that countries prepare for disease outbreaks, but not, for example, for extreme weather phenomena, such as a hurricane.

PHOTO EFE/Rayner Peña R.

“Societies can only become resilient by developing disaster frameworks that can handle multiple types of threats, which can happen simultaneously,” he points out.

And you have to prepare now. In 2021 there were 378 disasters, not including disease outbreaks, more than the average of the last 20 years. Much of it related to the climate.

The entities urge local preparation, prevention, utilization and optimization of resources. Also to the common protection against socio-economic impacts, the strengthening of global solidarity mechanisms to guarantee responses to all needs, and the continuous analysis of the situation to reassess at all times, if it is necessary to modify the aid, and take measures.

Valuable learning

The coordinator of the Spanish Red Cross, Toni Bruel, assures in a statement that the most valuable learning that has allowed them to overcome this situation is that “many things can be done”: “more than we think we are capable of, which help the others in a simple way and being present everywhere”, he opines.

For IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain, the pandemic should be “a wake-up call” for the world community to prepare for the next health crisis.

“Our recommendations to world leaders focus on building trust, addressing inequality and leveraging local actors and communities to do work that saves lives,” emphasizes Chapagain.

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