MAYOR SAMI KANAAN REAFFIRMS NEED TO INCLUDE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS FOR EFFECTIVE PREPARATION AND RESPONSE TO FUTURE HEALTH CRISES AT WHO EVENT
On 1st October, Sami Kanaan, Mayor of Geneva and President of the Geneva Cities Hub took part alongside Health Ministers in a high-level virtual side-event on “Sustainable preparedness for health security and resilience: Adopting a whole-of-society approach and breaking the “panic-then-forget” cycle”. The event was co-organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), France, Finland and Indonesia, in the margins of the 75th session of the U.N. General Assembly.
The purpose of the event was to emphasize the significant benefits of preparedness to public health emergencies, such as the COVID19 pandemic. In view of any future similar emergency, it was underlined that all sectors of society and all levels of governments were to join forces and coordinate to ensure sustainable and effective preparedness, as well as resilient health systems.
Strong support to WHO as the world coordination agency in times of health crises, as well as to multilateralism and international cooperation between States, was also put forward. During the event, cities were pointed out as part of the problem since their density turns them into massive nodes of disease amplification, but above all as part of the solution, given that they provide access to health care, education, economic opportunities, protection, etc.
Acknowledging the unique dynamics of cities when it comes to the spread of infectious diseases, Mr. Kanaan emphasized the need to include local governments in the preparation and response to health emergencies, but also for the recovery and resilience to such crises. As frontline emergency responders, Mr. Kanaan recalled that local governments must not only be provided with means to implement policies, but also need to be involved in international debates that eventually shape solutions to global challenges.
In this regard, Mr. Kanaan pointed at the mission of the Geneva Cities Hub, which is to support stronger linkages between cities and global policy discussions in International Geneva. The Geneva Cities Hub aims to contribute to a more inclusive kind of multilateralism to support the whole of society approach, which is so crucial to effectively address the humanity’s most pressing challenges.
WHO and its Member States will continue to closely look at preparedness for health security and resilience. Cities and local authorities will also be involved through the WHO Global Strategic Preparedness Network initiative, which will allow them to share good practices on how to better prepare for and mitigate the impacts of future health crises on the society, the economy and the well-being of the population.