Invest in pandemic prevention rather than control, World Bank urges govts

The World Bank has urged policymakers, governments, and the international community to invest in pandemic prevention rather than containment and control after the outbreak of a disease.

This is contained in a statement issued by the World Bank Online Media Briefing Centre on Monday, on its report titled “Putting Pandemics Behind Us: Investing in One Health to Reduce Risks of Emerging Infectious Diseases .”

According to the statement, as the world continues to deal with the devastating effects of COVID-19, the World Bank is today releasing a new report that proposes actionable solutions to end the cycle of devastating pandemics.

It said the pace of Emerging Infectious Disease (EID) outbreaks had increased at an average annual rate of 6.7 per cent from 1980 onwards and the number of outbreaks had grown to several hundred per year since 2000.

The statement said this was largely due to humans extending their global footprint, altering natural habitats, and accelerating the spillover of animal microbes into human populations.

It said 75 per cent of EIDs and almost all known pandemics resulted from increased contact between animals and people, causing more than one billion human infections and one million deaths each year.

“In Putting Pandemics Behind Us: Investing in One Health to Reduce Risks of Emerging Infectious Diseases, policymakers, governments, and the international community are urged to invest in pandemic prevention.

“They are to move away from the business-as-usual approach based on containment and control after a disease has emerged.

” The report estimates that prevention costs guided by a One Health approach which would sustainably balance and optimise the health of people, animals, and ecosystems would range from 10.3 billion dollars to 11.5 billion dollars per year.

“When this is compared to the cost of managing pandemics which, according to the recent estimate by the G20 Joint Finance and Health Taskforce, amounts to about 30.1 billion dollars per year.”

“Ultimately, prevention is a global public good, no country can be excluded from benefiting and there is no limit to how many countries can benefit.”

It said unfortunately, there was chronic underinvestment in prevention and countries “must take action.”

“When prevention is successful, the benefits are invisible and do not manifest as crises that demand immediate attention.

” One Health is the global approach required to break this cycle of panic, neglect, and underinvestment.”

The statement quoted Mari Pangestu, World Bank Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships as saying “prevention is better than cure. COVID-19 has shown that a pandemic risk anywhere becomes a pandemic risk everywhere.

“The economic case for One Health is powerful, the cost of prevention is extremely modest compared to the cost of managing and responding to pandemics.”

The statement said the successful implementation of One Health would require improved coordination, communication, and collaboration between sectors reinforced by capacity building.

“It means managing trade-offs between development and holistic health objectives, and sharing costs more equitably through global coordination of policy and financing actions.”

It said investing in One Health was an investment in the future of humanity.

The statement said that the framework was holistic and would help governments, international organisations, and donors with direct financial resources to optimise scarce funding resources and prevent pandemics.

“One Health actions to prevent disease outbreaks are cost-effective, with an estimated annual rate of return of up to 86 per cent.

” Now is the time to mainstream One-Health, leave the cycle of panic and neglect behind us, and put the notion that prevention is better than the cure into reality.

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