Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response

Governments and health systems must urgently strengthen their approach to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response if we are to avoid the catastrophic impacts of another crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.

In just over three years, the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to nearly 25 million deaths worldwide and reversed progress towards global health goals, including the fight against infectious diseases like HIV, TB and malaria and advancements in maternal and child health. Over 93 million were pushed into poverty. In addition to the devastating death toll, the pandemic exposed the dramatic inequality in access to health tools and services between high- and low-income countries and between rich and poor people.

This was not the first global health emergency, nor will it be the last. Climate change is intensifying, making people more vulnerable to illnesses exacerbated by increased pollution, extreme heat, drought and famine, and increasing the spread of infectious diseases like malaria. Deforestation and urbanization are increasing the risk of spillover of disease from wildlife to humans; we have already seen this in recent years with new influenza strains and re-emerging viruses. Antimicrobial resistance is on the rise, with deadly diseases such as tuberculosis becoming increasingly resistant to the lifesaving drugs used to treat them.

Our unique approach to address access all along the value chain is critical to getting tests, treatments and tools to people who need them most in a health emergency. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we quickly applied our expertise to address critical challenges that prevented low- and middle-income countries from accessing new and lifesaving medicines, medical oxygen and diagnostic tests.

As we transition from the COVID-19 emergency response, our ongoing work on therapeutics, diagnostics, market shaping, oxygen and regional manufacturing will continue to support countries to address today’s health challenges while also building the capacity to respond to future pandemics.

Our new Issue Brief highlights how Unitaid is working with partners and countries to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

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