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The Covid-19 pandemic will not be the last: WHO chief

The Covid-19 pandemic will not be the last: WHO chief 

The coronavirus crisis will not be the last pandemic, and attempts to improve human health are "doomed" without addressing climate change and animal welfare, the head of the World Health Organization said.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also condemned the "dangerously short-sighted" cycle of throwing cash at outbreaks but doing nothing to prepare for the next, in a video message marking the first International Epidemic Preparedness Day on Sunday.

The WHO director general said it was time to learn the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"For too long, the world has operated in a cycle of panic and neglect," he said.

"We throw money at one outbreak, and when it ends, we forget it and do nothing to prevent the next one. This is dangerously short-sighted and frankly difficult to understand."

The September 2019 first annual report of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board on global preparedness for health emergencies, released a few months before the novel coronavirus broke out, said the planet was not very prepared for potentially devastating pandemics.

"History tells us that this will not be the last pandemic, and epidemics are a reality," Tedros said.

"The pandemic has highlighted the intimate links between the health of humans, animals and the planet," he added.

"Any effort to improve human health is doomed unless it addresses the critical human-animal interface, and the existential threat of climate change that is making our earth less habitable," he said.

- Upside down world' -

The new coronavirus has killed at least 1.75 million people and nearly 80 million cases have been recorded since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a count from official sources compiled by AFP.

"In the last 12 months, our world has been turned upside down. The impacts of the pandemic go far beyond the disease itself, with far-reaching consequences for societies and economies," said Tedros.

But the former Ethiopian health minister said the coronavirus crisis should not have come as a surprise, given the repeated warnings.

"We must all learn the lessons that the pandemic is teaching us," he said.

Tedros said that all countries must invest in preparedness capacities to prevent, detect and mitigate emergencies of all kinds, and called for greater primary health care.

The head of the UN health agency said that with investments in public health, "we can ensure that our children and their children inherit a safer, more resilient and more sustainable world."

The United Nations General Assembly called for International Epidemic Preparedness Day to promote the importance of prevention, preparedness, and partnership in dealing with epidemics.

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