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    New initiative by WHO aimed at enhancing pandemic readiness

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    The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a new initiative called the Preparedness and Resilience for Emerging Threats Initiative (PRET) to help countries prepare for future pandemics. The initiative provides guidance on integrated planning for responding to any respiratory pathogen such as influenza or coronaviruses. It incorporates the latest tools and approaches for shared learning and collective action established during the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent public health emergencies.

    Through the initiative, WHO will use a mode of transmission approach to guide countries in pandemic planning, given that many capacities and capabilities are common among groups of pathogens. PRET aims to promote and strengthen integrated preparedness and response and answer the call for technical guidance and support, as outlined in World Health Assembly resolutions.

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    The first module of the PRET Initiative focuses on respiratory pathogens, including influenza, coronaviruses, and respiratory syncytial virus. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the possible threat of avian influenza, this module will enable countries to critically review, test, and update their respiratory pandemic planning efforts to ensure they have the functional capacities and capabilities in place.

    The initiative can also serve to operationalize the objectives and provisions of the Pandemic Accord, which is currently being negotiated by WHO Member States. A process is underway to identify the next group of pathogens, such as arboviruses, to be addressed under this initiative. The PRET Initiative ushers in a new era for pandemic preparedness and represents an evolution of WHO’s core activities to support all Member States in strengthening health emergency preparedness, prevention, and response capacities and capabilities.

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    Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said, “Preparedness, prevention, and response activities must not be the province of the health sector alone. Just as health emergencies have impacts across many sectors, so must our preparedness and response efforts span sectors, disciplines and pathogens. It is critical, too, that community engagement and equity are the centre of our efforts, especially for those populations that are marginalized and most at risk.”

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    Rajesh M
    Rajesh M
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