All countries remain “dangerously unprepared” for the next pandemic, the Red Cross warned on Monday, saying future health crises could also collide with increasingly likely climate-related disasters.
“All countries remain dangerously unprepared for future outbreaks,” the IFRC said, concluding that governments were no more ready now than in 2019.
It said countries needed to be prepared for “multiple hazards, not just one”, saying societies only became truly resilient through planning for different types of disaster, as they can occur simultaneously.
The IFRC cited the rise in climate-related disasters and waves of disease outbreaks this century, of which Covid-19 was just one.
It said extreme weather events were growing more frequent and intense, “and our ability to merely respond to them is limited”.
The IFRC issued two reports making recommendations on mitigating future tragedies on the scale of Covid-19, on the third anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring the virus an international public health emergency.
“The Covid-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call for the global community to prepare now for the next health crisis,” said IFRC secretary general Jagan Chapagain.
“The next pandemic could be just around the corner; if the experience of Covid-19 won’t quicken our steps toward preparedness, what will?”
The report said major hazards harm those who are already vulnerable the most, and leaving the poorest exposed was “self-defeating”, as a disease can return in a more dangerous form.
– Breakdown of trust –
The IFRC said if people trusted safety messages, they would be willing to comply with public health measures and accept vaccination.
But the organisation said crisis responders “cannot wait until the next time to build trust”, urging consistent cultivation over time.
The IFRC said if trust was fragile, public health became political and individualised — something which impaired the Covid response.