A COVID-19 vaccination centre in Mina Rashid, Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre (ADPHC) and World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean jointly organised a webinar on ‘Pandemic Preparedness in the Countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region: Challenges & Opportunities’.

The event was held in cooperation with the Independent Panel on Preparedness and Response for Pandemic (IPPRP) and the Lancet-SIGHT Commission on Peaceful Societies.

Matar Saeed Rashed Al Nuaimi, Director-General of ADPH, said the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic should be used for preparedness agenda for the future. He also spoke about the importance of developing national capabilities to raise the level of preparedness.

Al Nuaimi emphasised the importance of establishing a strong international system for preparedness to face the dangers of future diseases, referring to the role of the UAE under its wise leadership in crisis management and future planning.

Initiatives to support WHO

Dr Hussein Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Assistant Undersecretary of Public Health Sector at Ministry of Health and Prevention, and Chairman of the National Committee for the Implementation of the Provisions of International Health Regulations and Prevention of Pandemics, appreciated the efforts of IPPRP.

He stressed that the UAE launched several initiatives to support WHO and facilitate the effective distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across the world, including the COVAX initiative, which aims to ensure equitable distribution of two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries.

This is in addition to the Coalition of Hope initiative launched by Abu Dhabi to benefit more than two-thirds of the world’s population.

“The UAE aims to play a pivotal role in accelerating the pace to the recovery stage from the pandemic in the world. This is in line with the UAE leadership’s vision to help the world come up with a global solution for the welfare of societies,” Al Rand added.

Support for international community

He went on to say that the sophisticated infrastructure of Dubai airports and the International Humanitarian City has largely contributed to the effective distribution of vaccines around the world.

Lauding the UAE’s support to the international community, Al Rand said that the country has sent approximately 2,062 tonnes of medical supplies, including 4.25 million tonnes of PCR testing equipment, 2,110 respirators, benefiting 135 countries around the world. Meanwhile, a total of 117 countries received aid from the warehouses of international organisations in the International Humanitarian City in Dubai.

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‘Learning many lessons’

Dr Ahmed Al Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region, said: “Our goal today has become clear, which is to better prepare the world to respond to the next pandemic, and the importance of learning many lessons from the experiences of the past year. Global solidarity is more important than ever, while access to health services and products remains unequal worldwide, pandemics attack without discrimination and it is possible that all countries are equally at risk. Therefore, it is important to highlight the economic benefit of pandemic preparedness.”