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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the risk of major disease outbreaks and highlighted countries’ lack of preparedness to fight them. Pandemics are large disease outbreaks that affect several countries and pose major health, social, and economic risks. A quick-moving pathogen spreading across the globe has the potential to kill tens of millions of people, disrupt economies, and destabilize national security – just as COVID-19 has demonstrated. Climate change, urbanization, and the lack of water and sanitation are all factors that could contribute to fast-spreading, catastrophic outbreaks.

COVID-19 has unleashed a worldwide shock wave with severe health, economic and social consequences which will affect many countries for years to come. Pandemic preparedness and disease surveillance anchored in strong health systems that reach all people—especially the most vulnerable—are crucial to ensure better protection from major disease outbreaks. Ensuring and investing in preparedness before a crisis strikes saves lives and ultimately saves money.

Global Preparedness Monitoring Board

The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) is an independent monitoring and accountability body co-convened by the World Bank and World Health Organization, created in response to recommendations by the UN Secretary General’s Global Health Crises Task Force in 2017.

Despite progress made since the West Africa Ebola crisis in 2014/15, GPMB’s 2020 report, A World in Disorder,  notes how the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a collective failure to take pandemic prevention, preparedness and response seriously and prioritize it accordingly.  GPMB warned that epidemic-prone diseases like Ebola, influenza and SARS were increasingly difficult to manage in the face of prolonged conflict, fragile states, and forced migration.

Anti-Microbial Resistance

Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) also poses a significant and growing health and financial threat to countries at all income levels. AMR occurs when microbes (bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites) cannot be treated by medicines that were previously effective. Investing in strengthening health systems and preparedness for pandemics and other infectious disease outbreaks is one of the best ways to contain AMR.

Also read the reports, "Pulling Together to Beat Superbugs: Knowledge and Implementation Gaps in Addressing Antimicrobial Resistance" and "Landscape Analysis of Tools to Address Antimicrobial Resistance" to learn more.

For more information on AMR, please see here.

Last Updated: May 13, 2021

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