Global Health Asia-Pacific March 2022 March 2022 - Page 49

did not require the drug . This demonstrates significant wastage of the drug .
Q . On a global level , what should we do to be better prepared for future pandemics ?
A . We have to accept the fact that pandemics will come and go . To the old dictum that three things are certain in life — birth , death , and taxes — we can add pandemics as the fourth .
With that in mind , strategies must now be prepared for a COVID-19 scenario occurring again anytime anywhere and where we least expect it .
Countries need to monitor their healthcare systems to spot diseases that could spark a pandemic , build up infectious diseases and epidemiology capabilities , and strengthen their ability to ramp up and build temporary hospitals , while also ensuring their ability to manufacture protective equipment , which is now a national resource .
They also need to make better use of IT for disease identification , notification , and tracking , as well as invest in vaccine manufacturing and development .
Q . What are the key threats we should look out for ?
A . Going forward , the next threat will be antimicrobial resistance . As borders reopen , medical tourism will rise again , with patients bringing multi-resistant bacteria to other countries .
We will also see another rise in respiratory infections , for example influenza and pertussis ( whooping cough ). Influenza cases that were practically absent over the past two years will see a resurgence because of travel .
We have seen coronavirus epidemics . I expect to see another one in my lifetime . I just hope that
The use of IT is needed for disease identification , notification , and tracking
it will not be the so-called disease X , which is the yet-unknown highly transmissible , highly virulent respiratory infection postulated by the World Health Organization .
There ’ s also the outside chance that COVID-19 could mutate into something totally different . There ’ s an extremely small risk that the existing strain of Omicron mixes with another coronavirus , resulting in a totally new virus altogether .
We could also have a resurgence of measles , another highly contagious air-borne virus , because of the anti-vaxxers movement and free movement across countries . n
Countries should invest in vaccine manufacturing and development
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