Covid-19 has been “a tragic reminder to the world of the insecurity and instability disease can cause,” and has shown how critical it is to invest in health, the World Health Organization's director-general said on Thursday.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our world. It has stress tested our political, economic, cultural and social infrastructure,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the Aspen Security Forum.
“It has pushed the limits of health systems, both weak and strong, leaving no country untouched,” he said. “It has humbled us all.”
The world has learned the lesson that it needs to invest in pandemic preparedness and climate crisis the hard way, Tedros said, and that unless this happens, “we leave ourselves open to enormous harm.”
All countries have been hit hard, he said, high- and low-income alike, with the Americas remaining as one of the epicenters of the virus.
“No single country can fight this virus alone. Its existence anywhere puts lives and livelihoods at risk everywhere,” Tedros said.
It is never too late to turn it around, though he said; using “science solutions and solidarity” together it is possible to overcome the pandemic.
The first coronavirus pandemic has shown how critical health investment is to national security, Tedros said, with universal health coverage being essential for global health security.
WHO’s highest priority is to support all countries in strengthening their health systems so that everyone can access quality services when they are needed, he said.
“For all our differences, we are here, one human race, sharing the same planet -- and our security is interdependent,” he said. “No country will be safe until we are all safe.”
Tedros finished by urging all leaders to choose the path of cooperation, and to act now to end the virus. “It’s not just the smart choice,” he said, “It’s the right choice, and it’s the only choice we have.”