Pandemics are unpredictable. It is hard to forecast when the next one will strike. Pandemics can start in any place in the world where animals and people are in close proximity, as pathogens can spread from an animal to a human who has never been infected with the virus before.

Pandemics have been predicted in the past by mapping all known emerging infection episodes from the 1940s to the early 2000s and predicting that emergence will occur at one of those locales. However, emergence is a random phenomenon that occurs at any time and in any location, and mapping has not proven to be a reliable forecast.

Climate change’s primary causes can also raise the likelihood of pandemics. More and more animals are coming into touch with humans as a result of deforestation, urbanization, and the massive livestock husbandry required for a burgeoning meat-production business. As a result, the infectious agent is more likely to ‘jump’ from animal to human. It is widely believed that another pandemic will occur and that people are increasing the chances of pandemics by engaging in many of the same activities that cause climate change.

That is why a “one health” strategy is critical—the animal health, human health, and environmental sectors must collaborate to recognize and respond to pandemic threats quickly. As much as human health, pandemic prevention and preparedness must be considered in the context of the ecosystem and animal health. We can only hope to secure human health by preserving a healthy environment and animal populations.

Next outbreak?

The most important issue facing all countries is how they detect outbreaks. This involves pathogen genetic sequencing and the exchange of sequence data in international databases. Industrialized nations should assist low and middle-income countries in strengthening their public health capability in order to achieve the best possible health security for the human population. Another important aspect of monitoring is the need to change the focus from finding infections in humans to detecting them early in animal populations and preventing them from spreading to humans.

The effectiveness of any efforts to prepare for the upcoming pandemic depends on how well-developed national mechanisms are for identifying and combating outbreaks. Nevertheless, nations must work together more effectively to ensure a more equitable distribution of the equipment required for preparation and response. Rich countries prioritized their own populations over a fairer global response during the Covid-19, likely extending the pandemic’s consequences. Some developing countries had trouble getting the tests, vaccines, and treatments they required to react appropriately.

Due to the advances in vaccines, diagnostic tests, and therapies, the world is better equipped for the next significant outbreak or pandemic. 

So are we prepared for the next pandemic? Due to the advances in vaccines, diagnostic tests, and therapies, the world is better equipped for the next significant outbreak or pandemic. These tools are the result of years of research, and the Covid-19 pandemic has hastened their development significantly. Similar technology may be used to develop efficient vaccinations, diagnostics, and treatments more promptly in the event of another influenza or coronavirus pandemic.

NA personnel perform final rites of Covid-19 victims in makeshift funeral pyres. (File photo/RSS)

Politics may provide the biggest obstacle to the next pandemic’s preparedness. National sovereignty must be maintained, just as it is in the case of the present pandemic, but the difficulty is to make sure that these considerations do not trump the cooperation needed for an effective international response.

There is no alternative to the determined implementation of traditional public health measures, such as test, trace, isolate, and physical distance, as recognized by the nations whose response has been most successful. Even the best health systems in the world will be overwhelmed if an infectious disease is allowed to grow unchecked. Supporting and showing solidarity with the populations that are negatively impacted by the public health measures required to address the pandemic is essential to accomplishing that successfully.

The importance of collaborative and coordinated leadership among political decision-makers, academics, public health experts, and national and subnational authorities is an important lesson to be learned. As Covid-19 grows endemic, politicians face the risk of losing the drive to support and lead the measures needed to maintain and develop global pandemic preparation.

Like climate change, pandemic preparedness depends on collaboration between developed and developing countries as well as the political emphasis on finding solutions rather than playing the blame game.

The original article has been published on Nepal Live Today

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