The global impact of COVID-19 has highlighted problems in health systems that need to be corrected for the future

The need for global health system reform against a future pandemic


More than a year ago, there was talk of a virus that emerged in a Chinese city called Wuhan that was totally unknown to international society. Nobody knew very well how or where it had really emerged, and now, so many months later, we are still far from really knowing about COVID-19. Ignorance was the Achilles heel of the entire planet, nobody knew how to react or what measures to take. Some called for calm while governments in many parts of the world began to close borders and decree house-to-house confinements. After more than a year of suffering the consequences of this virus, we have not overcome the terrible blows it has dealt us, and it will take us a long time to do so. If there is one thing we have been able to do, it is to learn from all those mistakes we have made - and continue to make - against the coronavirus in order to fight future pandemics. 

The option of creating an international pandemic treaty would be vital in the face of future threats such as COVID-19, which, according to experts, will be difficult to avoid. Governments do not have the prevention systems or the knowledge to deal with a crisis like COVID-19," said Pedro Sánchez during the meeting organised by the Ibero-American General Secretariat under the title "Reforming and strengthening the global health system for a better response to future pandemics". Until now, the pandemic could not be fought effectively because we did not even have the necessary knowledge to know what we were facing. 

Cumbre Iberoamericana COVID-19

The President of the Spanish Government himself has defended what he considers to be one of the bases to be dealt with in the possible treaty against pandemics, namely the sharing of information and knowledge, something that, according to him, we have not seen since the arrival of COVID-19. To which he also added the fight against climate change as one of the essential aspects for the future: "We have to strengthen our multilateral tools against Climate Change". This idea was shared by another of the speakers at the forum, Sebastián Piñera, President of Chile, who argued that "the fight against deforestation is the fight against the future pandemic". To this end, he advocates, like Sánchez, the creation of a new international pandemic treaty that would also serve to combat climate change. 

"Legal problems can only have legal answers", said Antonio Costa, Prime Minister of Portugal, in reference to this hypothetical - hopefully forthcoming - treaty. We are going to experience more pandemics in the future and that is why it is vital to protect and defend what we have now rather than lamenting in time what we have lost. But, we must not put aside the crisis we are experiencing now to look to the future, when we have not yet overcome this pandemic. Because we cannot rest assured until 100% of the population has been vaccinated. And not of one country, but of the whole world, because, as Costa explained, "we cannot keep our borders closed for life" and we have to protect the entire population, not just our own country. 

Cumbre Iberoamericana COVID-19

Although we have not yet overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, the scenario we are going through now seems to be one of the last in the battle against the virus itself. The rapid development of a vaccine is an unprecedented technological breakthrough. However, the unequal distribution of vaccines is one of the biggest problems during this stage of immunisation of the population. The Costa Rican president, Carlos Alvarado, denounced the "abysmal inequality" in the distribution of vaccines when he said that "53% of vaccines are in 16% of the world's population". 

Rebeca Grynspan

With still a long way to go, the diplomatic machinery has set to work to start taking measures against the pandemics we will have to face in the future. The international pandemics treaty is the most popular measure among the leaders of different countries who do not lose sight of the consequences that COVID-19 has left and continues to leave, and which will take many years to overcome. And as President Alvarado rightly said, there is still a long way to go against COVID-19 because "there will be no security until we are all vaccinated".