ask Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General of WHO, and will tell you that we must not yet, EVER breathe a sigh of relief. On the contrary, he says: we should prepare ourselves to face an even greater threat. A disease with a lethal potential greater than that of COVID-19. And yes, it's only been a month since declaration of "end of emergency".
The warning of the WHO director: the risk of a new disease is always lurking
During the World Health Assembly in Geneva, the head of WHO stressed that the end of the global health emergency of the COVID-19 does not mean that the global health threat is over. The risk of new variants and an additional pathogen with even greater lethal potential is always lurking. For this Ghebreyesus judged the birth of the very important International Pathogen Surveillance Network (IPSN) to identify and respond to the emerging threats of each new disease using genomics. IPSN will provide each country with access to pathogen genomic sequencing and analysis as part of its public health system.
The heart of IPSN
The IPSN secretariat, hosted by the WHO Center for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence, will bring together genomics and data analytics experts from around the world, incorporating governments, philanthropic foundations, multilateral organizations, civil society, academia and the private sector. Global cooperation in genomic surveillance of pathogens has proven to be key in the fight against COVID-19. IPSN aims to build on this experience to ensure that pandemic prevention and response is innovative and robust in the future.
The importance of high-quality data
The collection of high-quality data is an indispensable tool to track potentially pandemic pathogens and support a timely response by other countries. But the effectiveness of data collection can be affected by the negative penalties faced by countries that report the outbreak of a disease. Proposals to strengthen WHO's response to health emergencies will be discussed at the World Health Assembly, which concludes next week: the next step could be the creation of a global council on health emergencies, composed of international leaders.
"No one can postpone this issue," Tedros said. "When the next pandemic knocks on the door (and it will knock) we must be ready to respond decisively, collectively and fairly". Someone comes forward, suggesting a bold, somewhat borderline idea: in the event of other health problems, could the loss of state sovereignty in favor of a supranational "management" be our ultimate goal? Tedros, with a slight smile, replies in no uncertain terms: "Fake news". And he cuts it short, putting an end to any speculation.
At the moment.