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At UNGA, leaders must change course on pandemics

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COVID-19 antigen testing. Photo: Jan Kopřiva via Unsplash
Ahead of the UNGA High-Level Meeting on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response (PPPR) in New York, The Elders lay out their calls to action for a healthier, safer world.
At the High-Level Meeting, leaders must:
  • Recognise pandemics as an existential threat: Pandemics affect every area of society and pandemic prevention, preparedness and response (PPR) must not be approached solely as an issue of health. In New York, leaders must develop a roadmap for a whole-of-society approach to PPR.
  • Restate their commitment to transforming global pandemic prevention, preparedness and response: There continues to be a failure of political will to learn the lessons of COVID-19, but the world cannot afford to forget the last pandemic. Leaders owe it to the survivors of COVID-19, as well as their families and communities, to ensure that a pandemic like COVID-19 can never happen again.
  • Elevate pandemic prevention, preparedness and response to the highest political levels: Leaders should commit to improving coordination and governance at the highest political levels, to ensure pandemic prevention, preparedness and response is kept high up on the global agenda.


Gro Harlem Brundtland, first woman Prime Minister of Norway and former Director-General of WHO, said:

Pandemics pose an existential threat to humanity and can only be tackled by multilateral cooperation. As we saw during COVID-19, the World Health Organization played a crucial role in delivering critical recommendations to governments, so it is vital now that it receives sufficient funding and political support in the future. But leaders also need to understand that pandemic prevention, preparedness and response is not solely a “health” issue.

Pandemics touch on every aspect of society and therefore only a comprehensive, multi-sectoral approach can help prepare better for the next pandemic. The upcoming High-Level Meeting in New York must deliver a roadmap that charts a path to a safer, healthier future for all.

Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Co-Chair of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR), said:

COVID-19 exposed and exacerbated the profound economic, social and other inequalities which scar our world. The world’s poorest and most vulnerable people were put at great risk and infectious diseases know no borders. It is in our collective global interest to ensure that the world is better prepared to prevent another pandemic. Leaders must lead on this and express strong commitment to pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response at the High-Level Meeting in New York to avoid future catastrophes.   


Visit our 'Tackling the existential threat of pandemics' hub to learn more.

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