World 'dangerously unprepared' for next pandemic, warns Red Cross
Posted on the 1st February 2023
A new report by the Red Cross has said all countries remain "dangerously unprepared" for the next pandemic.
The World Disasters Report notes that, despite three "brutal" years of the Covid-19 pandemic, strong preparedness systems are "severely lacking” and that any future health crises could be further complicated by increasingly likely climate-related disasters.
The world's largest humanitarian network said building trust, equity and local action networks is vital to get ready for the next crisis.
"All countries remain dangerously unprepared for future outbreaks," the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said, concluding that governments were no more ready now than in 2019.
It warns that countries need to be prepared for "multiple hazards, not just one", saying societies only become truly resilient through planning for different types of disaster, as they can occur simultaneously.
The IFRC cited the rise in climate-related disasters and waves of disease outbreaks this century, of which COVID-19 was just one.
It said extreme weather events are growing more frequent and intense, "and our ability to merely respond to them is limited.”
The report said that major hazards harm those who are already vulnerable the most and that leaving the poorest exposed was "self-defeating", as a disease can return in a more dangerous form.
The IFRC said if people trusted safety messages, they would be willing to comply with public health measures and accept vaccination.
But the organisation said crisis responders "cannot wait until the next time to build trust", urging consistent cultivation over time.
It also said the coronavirus pandemic had thrived on and exacerbated inequalities, with poor sanitation, overcrowding, lack of access to health and social services, and malnutrition creating conditions for diseases to thrive.
"The world must address inequitable health and socio-economic vulnerabilities far in advance of the next crisis," it recommended.
The organisation also said local communities should be leveraged to perform life-saving work, as that is where pandemics begin and end.
The IFRC called for the development of pandemic response products that are cheaper, and easier to store and administer.
It said that, by 2025, countries should increase domestic health finance by one percent of gross domestic product, and global health finance by at least $15 billion per year.
The IFRC said its network has reached more than 1.1 billion people over the past three years to help keep them safe during the Covid pandemic.