By Thandiwe Garusa
THE Elders, a group of eminent internationally acclaimed politicians, have urged world leaders to rise to the challenge and demonstrate a direct and personal responsibility in leading efforts to prevent future global pandemics such as Covid-19 and the threats they pose.
The Elders said this can be achieved by the leaders publicly committing to make decisive actions in the collective public interest.
In a statement Monday, The Elders chairperson Mary Robinson, the former Ireland president, said the disastrous failures of global leadership since last year will be felt for many years.
“Covid-19 must not be seen as a health crisis alone. It is a political, economic, social, and human rights crisis, and the consequences of both the virus and the disastrous failures of international leadership since the beginning of 2020 will be felt for many years to come,” she said.
“The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR) report offers an invaluable blueprint for learning lessons and building more resilient systems to withstand future threats, but it can only be implemented successfully if leaders rise to the challenge and make it their overarching political priority.”
The Elders warned the failure by world leaders to seize the moment at this year’s UN General Assembly, will not only harm future pandemic preparedness efforts but make it harder to deliver the sustained, long-term multilateral action needed to tackle other critical threats such as the climate crisis, nuclear weapons, and socioeconomic inequality.
Gro Harlem Brundtland, a member of the Elders and former Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the world stood at a critical moment in its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The world stands at a critical moment in its response to the pandemic and its attempts to prevent future disasters. Thus far, the record of heads of state has been almost uniformly inadequate, and the response of the G7 rich industrialised countries at their recent summit in the UK was particularly disappointing.”
Brundtland added: “We need urgent action and delivery, not just on vaccine production and distribution, but also on agreeing to a political pathway at the United Nations.
“This must both empower the WHO and enable the full capacities of the whole UN system to be mobilised for pandemic responses, now and in the future,”