Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre (ADPHC) and WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean recently organised a webinar on "Pandemic Preparedness in the Countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region: Challenges & Opportunities." ADPHC partnered with the Independent Panel on Preparedness and Response for Pandemic (IPPPR) and the Lancet-SIGHT Commission on Peaceful Societies to organise the webinar on COVID-19 preparedness.
During the event, ADPH Director-General Matar Saeed Rashed Al Nuaimi underlined the importance of utilising the learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic in developing a preparedness agenda for the future. He also underscored the need to strengthen national capabilities to effectively boost preparedness to counter the dangers of future outbreaks. Al Nuaimi called on world governments to institute a robust international system to enhance pandemic preparedness. He highlighted the UAE's role in crisis management and future planning under the guidance of its wise leadership.
For his part, Dr. Hussein Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Assistant Undersecretary of Public Health Sector at Ministry of Health and Prevention and Chairman of the National Committee for the Implementation of the Provisions of International Health Regulations and Prevention of Pandemics, lauded the efforts of IPPPR during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He noted that the UAE launched several programmes and initiatives to assist the WHO in effectively distributing COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. He talked about the COVAX initiative, which aims to ensure equitable distribution of two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries. At the same time, Abu Dhabi launched the Coalition of Hope initiative to provide critical support and assistance in vaccine distribution towards more than two-thirds of the world's population.
"The UAE aims to play a pivotal role in accelerating the pace to the recovery stage from the pandemic in the world. This is in line with the UAE leadership's vision to help the world come up with a global solution for the welfare of societies," Al Rand added.
He stated that the state-of-the-art infrastructure of Dubai airports and International Humanitarian City has significantly helped distribute COVID-19 vaccines across the world. Al Rand further commended the UAE's support to the international community, adding that the country has sent more than 2,000 tonnes of medical aid and supplies to over 135 destinations worldwide. This aid included 4.25 million tonnes of PCR testing equipment, 2,110 respirators, and thousands of COVID-19 vaccines. Moreover, 117 countries received support and assistance from the warehouses of international organisations in the International Humanitarian City in Dubai.
Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region, stated that the goal of these initiatives is to boost global preparedness for any future disease with the help of the learnings from experiences of the past year. Taking cognisance of the ongoing situation, he underlined the economic benefits of pandemic preparedness, pointing out that the cost of pandemic preparedness is much lower than expenditures in response to emergencies.
"Global solidarity is more important than ever, while access to health services and products remains unequal worldwide, pandemics attack without discrimination, and all countries may be equally at risk," Dr. Al-Mandhari added.