Of hope and vigilance – WHO’s announcement gives hope, but there is a message of caution

Source: The post is based on the article “Of hope and vigilance – WHO’s announcement gives hope, but there is a message of caution” published in The Hindu on 9th May 2023

Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues relating to the development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Relevance: About the WHO Declaration on COVID Pandemic.

News: Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that Covid-19 no longer represents a global emergency status – ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’ or ‘PHEIC’.

What is the Public Health Emergency of International Concern(PHEIC)?

Read here: Public Health Emergency of International Concern(PHEIC)

About the WHO Declaration on COVID Pandemic

Read more: COVID pandemic is no longer an emergency, declares WHO

What tasks should the nations focus upon?

Eternal vigilance on mutations: The WHO and nations have to ensure that the WHO announcement is not selectively received. The nations have to pay attention to multiple variants and sub-variants that continue to emerge regularly.

The nations must understand that at any point in time, it is possible that a new variant, or recombinant may lead to rapid transmission and cause severe disease, resulting in hospitalisations and even higher mortality rates.

Periodic drills for testing their health capability: The nations need to periodically test their capacity to respond to epidemic situations.

Utilise the infrastructure built during the pandemic: During the pandemic times, the governments built INSACOG laboratories that are capable of genetic sequencing. Similarly, other health infrastructures were also built. All these must be utilised well.

Increase R&D funding: The government should increase research and development funding into vaccine platforms, drug delivery systems, antivirals, and antibiotics. This will enable nations to be prepared for any upcoming health concerns.

Apart from nations, individuals should follow the hygiene and precautions that became a habit during the COVID years, particularly a) adhering to the vaccination schedule, b) following hand hygiene and c) masking under certain circumstances.

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