“A World in Disorder”
A World in Disorder. Global Preparedness Monitoring Board – Annual Report 2020
World Health Organization 2020 :: 52 pages
Never before has the world been so clearly forewarned of the dangers of a devastating pandemic, nor previously had the knowledge, resources and technologies to deal with such a threat. Yet, never before has the world witnessed a pandemic of such widespread and destructive social and economic impact.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a collective failure to take pandemic prevention, preparedness and response seriously and prioritize it accordingly. It has demonstrated the fragility of highly interconnected economies and social systems, and the fragility of trust. It has exploited and exacerbated the fissures within societies and among nations. It has exploited inequalities, reminding us in no uncertain terms that there is no health security without social security. COVID-19 has taken advantage of a world in disorder…
…In issuing its warning in last year’s inaugural report, the GPMB stressed the inadequacy of systems and financing required to detect and respond to health emergencies. As COVID-19 has proven, these systems remain dangerously deficient and under-resourced. This pandemic has also called out the human dimensions of health security, the actions of leaders and citizens that are so critical to vigorous preparedness and response.
Our report this year highlights responsible leadership and citizenship, as well as the adequacy of systems and resources, as key factors for success. It puts a special emphasis on the factor that binds these four elements together into an effective whole: the principles and values of governance that ensure the right choices, decisions and actions are taken at the right time. It points out that none are safe until all are safe and calls for a renewed commitment to multilateralism and to WHO and the multilateral system…
…The pandemic is far from over. Some countries have been relatively successful in suppressing the virus, protecting their populations, saving millions of lives. Others have not. Close to a million lives have been lost to COVID-19. The devastating economic and societal impact of COVID-19 reminds us, yet again, of the centrality of investment in pandemic preparedness to human security, and the need to reconsider how national security budgets are spent.
We have already learned many crucial lessons that demand immediate action if we are to say with any confidence, “never again”. But learning without action is pointless, and unsustained commitment is futile. As we warned in our last report, “For too long, we have allowed a cycle of panic and neglect when it comes to pandemics: we ramp up efforts when there is a serious threat, then quickly forget about them when the threat subsides.”
Again, we say: “It is well past time to act.” And we identify the commitments and actions leaders and citizens must take – boldly, decisively, immediately, and with new energy animated by the grim recognition that inaction kills.
H.E. Gro Harlem Brundtland
Co-Chair, Former Prime Minister, Norway, and Former Director- General, World Health Organization
Mr Elhadj As Sy
Co-Chair, Chair, Kofi Annan Foundation Board, and Former Secretary-General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
In our 2019 Annual Report, ‘A World at Risk’, we warned of the very real threat of ‘a rapidly spreading pandemic due to a lethal respiratory pathogen’2, and the need for determined political leadership at national and global levels. We called for seven urgent actions to prepare the world for health emergencies:
– Heads of government must commit and invest
– Countries and regional organizations must lead by example
– All countries must build strong systems
-Countries, donors and multilateral institutions must be prepared for the worst
– Financing institutions must link preparedness with financial risk planning
– Development assistance funders must create incentives and increase funding for preparedness
– The United Nations must strengthen coordination mechanisms
Progress in implementing these actions has been limited. It is not as if the world has lacked the opportunity to take these steps. There have been numerous calls for action in these areas over the last decade, yet none have generated the changes needed. Financial and political investments in preparedness have been insufficient, and we are all paying the price.
Conclusion & commitment
The COVID-19 pandemic is providing a harsh test of the world’s preparedness. The Board concludes that little progress has been made on any of the actions called for in last year’s report and that this lack of leadership is exacerbating the pandemic. Failure to learn the lessons of COVID-19 or to act on them with the necessary resources and commitment will mean that the next pandemic, which is sure to come, will be even more damaging.
We recognize that the GPMB must also change. Our monitoring and advocacy for preparedness must better reflect the contribution of sectors other than health, the importance of social protection, and be based on improved and predictive measures of preparedness.
As the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, we pledge to support good governance of global health security by fulfilling our mandate to independently monitor preparedness across all sectors and stakeholders, report regularly on progress, and continuously advocate for effective action.