The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has approved a resolution proclaiming Dec. 27 as the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness to keep a global spotlight on the need to strengthen global measures to prevent pandemics like COVID-19.
The resolution adopted Monday by consensus of the 193-member world body expresses “grave concern at the devastating impacts of major infectious diseases and epidemics, as exemplified by the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, on human lives.”
Epidemics wreak havoc “on long-term social and economic development” and create health crises that “threaten to overwhelm already overstretched health systems, disrupt global supply chains and cause disproportionate devastation of the livelihoods of people ... and the economies of the poorest and most vulnerable countries,” the resolution said.
The assembly underlined the urgency of having robust health systems and expressed deep concern that without international attention “future epidemics could surpass previous outbreaks in terms of intensity and gravity.”
It asked the World Health Organization (WHO) to facilitate the observance of the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness to ensure the transmission and exchange of information, scientific knowledge and best practices on preventing and responding to epidemics locally, nationally, regionally and internationally.
The adoption comes days after hundreds of world leaders took part in a virtual special session of the international body in response to the ongoing pandemic. They demanded urgent action to guarantee equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines during their addresses Thursday and Friday.
Vietnam's U.N. Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy introduced the text, saying COVID‑19 is not the first pandemic, nor will it be the last.
"The pandemic caught us off guard, but it also has served as a wake‑up call for improving our preparedness," he said in the statement.
Worldwide, the death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 1.5 million since the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China in December last year.
The number of infections has totaled more than 67.5 million and recoveries over 43 million, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.