UN chief calls for global solidarity to stop infectious diseases

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, Sept 21, 2021, at United Nations headquarters in New York. (EDUARDO MUNOZ / POOL VIA AP)

UNITED NATIONS – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called for global solidarity to stop infectious diseases.

In his video message for the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness, which falls on Dec 27, the UN chief said that building global solidarity would "give every country a fighting chance to stop infectious diseases in their tracks."

COVID-19 continues to demonstrate how quickly "an infectious disease can sweep across the world," pushing health systems to the brink and upending daily life for all of humanity, the UN chief said.

COVID-19 continues to demonstrate how quickly "an infectious disease can sweep across the world," pushing health systems to the brink and upending daily life for all of humanity, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said

"It also revealed our failure to learn the lessons of recent health emergencies like SARS, avian influenza, Zika, Ebola and others," said the secretary-general.

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"And it reminded us that the world remains woefully unprepared to stop localized outbreaks from spilling across borders, and spiraling into a global pandemic," he said.

Noting that infectious diseases remain "a clear and present danger to every country," Guterres maintained that COVID-19 would not be the last pandemic for humanity.

Even as the world responds to this health crisis, he spelled out the 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," he said.

"It means strengthening primary health care at the local level to prevent collapse… ensuring equitable access to lifesaving interventions, like vaccines for all people and … achieving universal health coverage."

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The first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness, marked on Dec. 27, 2020, was called for by the UN General Assembly to advocate the importance of the prevention of, preparedness for and partnership against epidemics.