The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a world ill-prepared to deal with the consequences of health pandemics.
Chronic underinvestment in global public health and decades of underfunding of the World Health Organization (WHO) have hampered our ability to tackle the current crisis, and will leave us ill-prepared for the future. World leaders must wake up to the realization that investing in the WHO is synonymous with investing in a healthier, safer world.
This strong argument was made in a widely published op-ed co-written by former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and a group of prominent global political and public health leaders.
Madam Sirleaf and fellow leaders weighed in on the need to bolster the world’s health defenses by scaling up support for the financial and operational independence of WHO:
“The funding problems of the World Health Organization are not new, but rather have been playing out over decades… They are symptomatic of an overall failure to invest sufficiently in global public health. This must stop now.”
The op-ed urged world leaders to heed the call of independent experts to channel more investment in the WHO by increasing the scale of their membership contributions:
“Taking this step would ensure more predictable financing for WHO’s emergency preparedness work, from laying the groundwork to protect communities from Ebola to strengthening health care systems in vulnerable settings. It would also enable WHO to invest in supporting countries to recover from COVID-19.”
Madam Sirleaf and the co-signatories of the op-ed warned of the overwhelming price to pay if the WHO’s mission is not supported by adequate investments:
“The billions needed to prevent and respond to health crises are dwarfed by the trillions in bankruptcies, job losses, and stimulus packages that emergencies like COVID-19 have cost the world economy.”
The op-ed was co-written by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia and Co-Chair of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, Gordon Brown, WHO Ambassador for Global Health Financing and former UK Prime Minister, Elhadj As Sy, Co-Chair of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, Helen Clark, Co-Chair of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response and former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Graça Machel, Founder of the Graça Machel Trust and Co-Founder of The Elders, Paul Martin, former Prime Minister of Canada, and Felicity Harvey, Co-Chair of the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee for the WHO Health Emergencies Program.
Read the full op-ed here: https://allafrica.com/stories/202201230169.html