Wednesday, June 19, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

PM: Strong leadership needed for a more resilient world against pandemics

  • Sheikh Hasina makes five recommendations
  • ‘Bangladesh will continue to play a constructive role in health sector’
Update : 07 May 2024, 07:54 PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said strong and decisive leadership will be essential in shaping a more resilient and prepared world against future pandemics.

“As we navigate the complexities of future pandemics, strong and decisive leadership will be essential in shaping a more resilient and prepared world,” she said.

The premier made the remarks joining a virtual meeting with Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand and Co-chair of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, from Ganabhaban in Dhaka.

She said political leadership’s engagement and commitment are essential in driving systemic changes that can enhance our ability to prevent, detect, and respond to future pandemics effectively.

“High-level political leadership ensures that pandemic preparedness and response remain a priority on the national and international agenda,” said Hasina.

It facilitates the mobilization of financial resources, promotes collaboration between countries, and fosters innovation in public health systems towards achieving the shared commitment to Universal Health Coverage by 2030, she added.

“High-level political leadership is indispensable in driving reforms related to pandemic preparedness and response,” she said, adding that it sets the tone for global cooperation, instills confidence in public health interventions, and ultimately saves lives.

“We must also mobilize collective political will and commitment to strengthen WHO’s knowledge, technical, and financial capacity for pandemic prevention and response by addressing the highly fragmented global health governance system,” she said.

The prime minister said the lessons from Covid-19 emphasize the need for a coordinated approach to pandemic preparedness and response, grounded in scientific evidence, global cooperation, and fairness and equity.

“A meaningful application of these lessons will be essential for mitigating the impact of future pandemics and safeguarding global health security,” she said.

In this context, Sheikh Hasina stressed five recommendations.

Raising the recommendations, she first said international cooperation and collaboration are essential for sharing information, expertise, and resources to effectively respond to global health crises that respect no borders.

She in her second recommendation said the race for vaccines revealed stark inequalities in access between developed and developing countries. Addressing these disparities requires concerted efforts to ensure equitable distribution and access to vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments.

Placing her 3rd recommendation, she said Covid-19 highlighted the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health. Adopting a One Health approach, which considers the health of humans, animals, and ecosystems as interconnected, can help prevent future pandemics, she added.

About the 4th recommendation, Sheikh Hasina said the rapid development of Covid-19 vaccines demonstrated the importance of investing in research and development for pandemic preparedness. Continued investment in R&D for vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics is essential for combating emerging and fatal infectious diseases, she said.

The prime minister in her 5th and final recommendation said adequate and sustainable financing mechanisms are needed to support preparedness efforts, including early warning systems, stockpiling of medical supplies, and capacity building in at-risk regions.

Turning to Bangladesh, she said the Covid-19 pandemic hit Bangladesh like many other countries, in early 2020. “But due to the continuation of our long-standing activities in the health sector and the timely action of the government, we have been able to reduce the loss of human lives and keep the economy running,” she added.

Sheikh Hasina said her government had to strike a judicious balance between saving lives and protecting livelihoods. In parallel, her government rolled out a substantive stimulus package for industries and a comprehensive social protection portfolio for our low-income and marginalized people, she mentioned.

“Due to our efforts, Bangladesh ranked among the top five countries in the world in overall Covid-19 management and recovery,” she said.

About the vaccine, the prime minister said: “In Bangladesh, we are also in a position to contribute to vaccine research and production in a cost-effective manner. Among other policy support measures, I have already allocated a piece of land for setting up a state-of-the-art Vaccine Research Institute.”

She said Covid-19 has been a global wake-up call, underscoring the critical need for comprehensive reform in international pandemic preparedness and response.

“This pandemic has shown us that we are all connected. None of us can be truly safe until we make sure everyone is safe. Now is the time to work together globally to achieve the public health goals outlined in Sustainable Development Goal-3 and Goal-17,” she went on.

Over the last 15 years, Bangladesh has continuously strengthened its preparedness and response capacity, incorporating the results of health security assessments and lessons from past emergencies, said Sheikh Hasina.

The Covid-19 pandemic in Bangladesh, as in other countries, was a test of resolve for preparedness, response, and resilience, she continued.

Covid-19 showed that prior investment in health security in Bangladesh was very useful as the country was able to quickly leverage existing preparedness and response plans, surveillance platforms, laboratories, and workforce for emergency response, she said.

“Our health systems could rapidly expand the laboratory network for prompt diagnosis and provide accessible clinical care. Drawing on those lessons, we are now maximizing our efforts to prevent, detect, and better respond to future outbreaks and emergencies, including silent epidemics such as antimicrobial resistance,” she said.

The prime minister assured that Bangladesh will continue to play a constructive role in this regard, considering its past success in protecting public health and dealing with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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