comprehensive health reform is urgent

The world was not ready for the onset of COVID-19 and the management of the pandemic has been inadequate, marked by the absence of a common strategy. The WHO Regional Office for Europe therefore tasked the Pan-European Commission for Health and Sustainable Development to formulate recommendations aimed at developing a better global strategy in the face of pandemics.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the need for urgent reform of health care, surveillance and governance. A concerted commitment from governments is essential if the world is to become truly resilient and tackle the inequalities and failures that help perpetuate the crisis.

In parallel with an unprecedented global economic recession, more than 1.2 million deaths have been recorded in the European region alone, and more than 4 million worldwide.

It is therefore urgent that “the international community learns from mistakes both for prevention, preparedness or response to pandemics, because it cannot afford to reproduce them ”, insists Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe.

“The new generations deserve a better world, a world where progress does not come at the expense of their health and the health of the planet”, adds Mario Monti, President of the Pan-European Commission for Health and Sustainable Development.

A unified health policy

Human activities, deforestation, consumption of wild animals or international travel are at the origin of the emergence and spread of viruses.

The Commission recommendsadopt a unified health policy, according to the concept ” One Health (“One health”), recognizing the interdependence of human, animal and environmental health in order to protect future generations.

A fight against inequalities

The Commission calls on States to tackle health, social, economic and gender inequalities deeply rooted in societies and highlighted by the pandemic.

To do this, it is necessary to identify people who lead a precarious life and to tackle societal mistrust in order to improve social cohesion, in particular by setting up quotas in public bodies or by monitoring inequalities in health.

An investment in innovation

The pandemic has clearly demonstrated that the current model of healthcare innovation is flawed.

The Commission therefore recommends that governmentsharness innovation to improve the “One Health” initiative, on the basis of a partnership between the public and private sectors, where the risks and benefits would be shared.

Better monitoring and data collection

Prevention and management of pandemics cannot be left to private markets or to individual countries. Countries unable to contain the virus become a source of new infections and new variants.

The Commission therefore invites countries to set up early warning systems and strengthen surveillance and data collection, while preserving the privacy of individuals.

Organized global governance

COVID-19 has shown the inability of certain governance structures to protect our societies from the worst impacts of the pandemic, preferring political responses to scientists.

The Commission suggests the creation of a World Health Council under the responsibility of the G20, the development of a global treaty on pandemics and a global policy on vaccines against pandemics.

Responsible regional governance

The diversity of European regions and the world in terms of wealth, size of the population, demography, access to health care, levels of education, or even (digital) interconnection poses a series of problems of coordination and policy.

The Commission recommends the creation of a pan-European disease control network and a pan-European health threats council, while investing in data sharing and interoperability platforms across the region.

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