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Invest in health systems to fight future pandemics — WHO Chief Scientist

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The Chief Scientist of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Jeremy Farrar, has urged world leaders to invest in building health and political systems, to improve scientific capacity to fight future pandemics.

The WHO scientist, in a video posted on the global health body’s official Twitter handle, stressed that countries need to start investing largely in manufacturing, health, and surveillance to be able to combat potential pandemics.

Farrar, while advising world leaders not to wait for a crisis before investing, also emphasised the importance of building trust among nations.

He said, “So many lessons from the pandemic. For me, I think the most important lesson is what you have before will largely determine how you can respond to it.

“And that means what scientific capacity do you have? What manufacturing capacity do you have? What surveillance capacity do you have? How strong is your health system? How much experience have you got with epidemics and pandemics? What’s your political system? None of those things can you build in a crisis.

“Trust is built up over the years. Science is built up over the years. Political systems are built up over the years. So don’t wait until a crisis. Invest in all of those things. Most importantly, perhaps, trust.”

Farrar also referred to global health issues as transnational, adding that no country could solve its issues without cooperating with others.

“If you look at the challenges in our time, in my view, they are all transnational. No country on its own is going to be able to solve the climate change crisis.

“No country on its own is going to be able to protect itself against pandemics, drug-resistant infections, the rise of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and inequality.

“So, unless we work out how we are going to work together, we are never going to be able to solve these 21st-century challenges.

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