On Wednesday, the secretary-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Ghebreyesus underscored the need to ready ourselves for Disease X, expressing optimism that nations will achieve a pandemic agreement by May of this year to confront this “common enemy.”
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus remarked, “The pandemic agreement can consolidate all the experiences, challenges, and solutions we have encountered into one.”
He highlighted the term Disease X, denoting an unknown disease first termed in 2018, emphasizing the inevitability of unforeseen events, stating, “a matter of when not if.”
Ghebreyesus advocated against facing uncertainties unprepared and encouraged readiness for potential unknowns. Speaking at a panel discussion titled “Preparing for Disease X,” he emphasized the significance of research, development, health infrastructure, and workforce preparedness for Disease X. Stressing the importance of primary health, he pointed to the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even communities can prepare for Disease X,” said Ghebreyesus.
Emphasizing the significance of the agreement on managing the pandemic, he underscored its potential to enhance global readiness for future challenges.
“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.
Highlighting the May 2024 deadline for the pandemic agreement, Ghebreyesus expressed hope that countries would reach this agreement by then. He noted that if the current generation, with firsthand experience, fails to act, he doubts the next generation will succeed.
“For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we must prepare the world for the future,” added Ghebreyesus.