Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message on the International Day Message on Epidemic Preparedness, observed today:
COVID-19 demonstrated how quickly an infectious disease can sweep across the world, push health systems to the brink and upend daily life for all of humanity. It also revealed our failure to learn the lessons of recent health emergencies like SARS, avian influenza, Zika, Ebola and others.
And it reminded us that the world remains woefully unprepared to stop localized outbreaks from spilling across borders and spiralling into a global pandemic.
COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic humanity will face. Infectious diseases remain a clear and present danger to every country.
As we respond to this health crisis, we need to prepare for the next one. This means scaling-up investments in better monitoring, early detection and rapid response plans in every country — especially the most vulnerable. It means strengthening primary health care at the local level to prevent collapse. It means ensuring equitable access to life‑saving interventions like vaccines for all people. And it means achieving universal health coverage.
Most of all, it means building global solidarity to give every country a fighting chance to stop infectious diseases in their tracks. An outbreak anywhere is a potential pandemic everywhere.
On this International Day of Epidemic Preparedness, let’s give this issue the focus, attention and investment it deserves.