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A bold new strategy for health and sustainable development in the light of pandemics

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Statement to the press by Professor Mario Monti, Chair of the Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development

10 September 2021

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished members of the press, Regional Director – Hans, Professor McKee, Professor Mossialos, fellow commissioners, it is a pleasure to be joining you today to present the findings and recommendations of the Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development.

As this decade dawned, the world faced a monumental and unsolicited stress test: the COVID-19 pandemic. And as events have unfolded in the months since, we can be in no doubt that our political, economic and social systems have catastrophically failed to manage the defining crisis of our time.
There has been a tragic loss of life, and a disastrous impact on livelihoods. We cannot accept the consequences of our failings during this pandemic without trying to identify and tackle their causes. From this darkness, we must attempt to draw light. This is the reason that the Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development was convened, and why we present our recommendations to you today.

Leading experts from the fields of politics, life science, economy, health and social care, business and finance, have reached consensus on the need for 2 novel approaches to move forward. Firstly, we must fully recognize the interconnections between the health of humans, animals, plants and the planet – environment, biodiversity and climate above all. And secondly, the resulting One Health policy we propose must in turn be intimately integrated in a wider and coherent policy framework, comprising economic and financial, technological, social and international policies.

Today, I and my fellow commissioners share the culmination of a year of review and research, discussions and deliberations. We believe that the 7 objectives and related recommendations we have set down in our report provide clarity – a light by which we can reset the path to equitable, sustainable development:

  • We propose that countries establish One Health strategies, so that the linkages and risks related to the interface of human, animal and environmental health can been addressed in a coordinated way.
  • We call on countries to tackle deep-rooted inequalities, identify those who live in difficult circumstances, and develop policies to give them more security.
  • We ask for the risk and returns around innovation and development to be shared between the private and public sectors.
  • We seek greater investment in health systems, particularly primary and mental health care, as well as in the health workforce.
  • We underline that health surveillance, early warning systems and crisis response must be strengthened.
  • We suggest improving global governance for health through the creation of a Global Health Board under the G20, a Pandemic Treaty for joint decision-making, and a global pandemic vaccine policy.
  • We advocate for the establishment of a Pan-European Health Threats Council and a Network for Disease Control to maintain political commitment and take decisive action when threats arise.

These are some of the recommendations you will find in the report.

It remains for me to thank each and every commissioner for their commitment, collaboration and expertise; to recognize the invaluable guidance and support of Professor Martin McKee and Professor Elias Mossialos – bringing scientific rigour to this process and coordinating the scientific review; and to acknowledge that this Commission and its report would not have been possible without the inspiration and enterprise of the WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr Kluge.

The world walked into the COVID-19 crisis lacking foresight, unwilling and unable to reach consensus on current pressing challenges. Countries were stuck looking on their doorsteps, seeking to solve transnational problems with outdated national solutions.

Future generations will not thank us for our short-sightedness. We need a new vision. We present to you a bold new strategy for health and sustainable development in the light of pandemics.

Thank you

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