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Get ready for Disease X, warns WHO chief

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The World Health Organization (WHO) secretary-general on Wednesday highlighted the importance of getting prepared for Disease X, expressing hope that countries will reach a pandemic agreement by this May to address this “common enemy.”

“The pandemic agreement can bring all the experience all the challenges that we have faced and all the solutions into one,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Saying that Disease X, an unknown disease, was used as a term for the first time in 2018, he noted that there are unknown things that may happen and anything happening is “a matter of when not if.”

“We should not face things unprepared, we can prepare for some unknown things as well,” Ghebreyesus told a panel discussion titled “Preparing for Disease X.”

Touching on the importance of research and development as well as health infrastructure and workforce to be prepared for Disease X, he stressed that primary health is crucial as the world saw during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even communities can prepare for Disease X,” said Ghebreyesus, adding public health, education, and communication should be at the center.

Reiterating the importance of the pandemic agreement, he stressed that this can help the world prepare for the future in a better way.

“Because this is about a common enemy and without a shared response, starting from the preparedness … we will face the same problem as COVID,” added the WHO chief.

Reminding that the deadline for the pandemic agreement is May 2024, Ghebreyesus said he hopes countries will reach this pandemic agreement by that time.

He went on to say that if this generation who has first-hand experience cannot do it, he does not think the next generation will do it.

“So for our children and grandchildren’s sake, … we have to prepare the world for the future,” added Ghebreyesus. (AA)

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