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We must not get caught flat-footed by next pandemic — int’l forum

June 1, 2024 Arlene Rivera 140 views

THE world was not prepared for COVID-19.and there is an urgent need to be ready when the next public health emergency comes.

This was the gist of the World Disasters Report Forum presented recently at Makati Shangri-La by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), in cooperation with the Australian Government and the United Nations (UN) Philippines.

The report highlighted the need for preparedness.

“Both the ways preparedness ahead of Covid-19 was inadequate, and how to prepare more effectively for future public health emergencies. We must now prepare our societies for the next public health emergency. Being truly prepared, therefore, means being ready to prevent, respond and recover, and to learn lessons for next time,” said IFRC Secretary-General Jagan Chapagain as he pointed out that preparedness is based on the principles of trust, equity, and local action.

Speaking at the forum, IFRC president Kate Forbes acknowledged PRC’s successful fight against the pandemic, saying previous model of technical support and asset deployment from the Federation and other National Societies was no longer effective and needed to change

“This is where the Philippine Red Cross led the way. It is the case study for success in connecting with and empowering local communities. The Philippine Red Cross has been successful at working in local communities for decades. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the Philippine Red Cross had the tools, resources, and network to help communities. As you can read in the report, the PRC anticipated the needs of communities, it leveraged their trust, and implemented local action that kept communities safe,” Forbes said.

PRC chairman and CEO Richard J. Gordon recalled how the support of its corporate partners and its two million volunteers allowed the Philippines’ largest humanitarian organization to save lives amid the onslaught of COVID-19.

“We have it in us as a country… to meet every challenge, bear every burden or suffering. But when we get together, especially when we have leaders we can follow, and instead of saying it’s not my problem, we say I’ll be part of the solution,” Gordon said.

Other speakers at the forum were PRC Secretary-General Dr. Gwen Pang, UN Philippines Resident coordinator Gustavo Gonzales, Australian Embassy in the Philippines Counsellor Thanh Le, IFRC Asia Pacific Regional Director Alexander Matheou, and IFRC Philippine Delegation Program Coordinator Gopal Mukherjee.

The forum panelists included Dr. Paulyn Jean Ubial, Molecular Laboratory Head of PRC’s COVID-19 Response; Dr. Charlotte Chiong, Dean of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine; Dr. Maria Clarissa Alejandro, CEO of Healthway QualiMed; Ms. Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, UNICEF representative to the Philippines; and Australian Embassy’s Dr. Thanh Le. Dr. Eric Tayag was the moderator.