The Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged the world in the recent times, causing the deaths of thousands of people. In Mozambique, according to data made public by the Ministry of Health (MISAU), the disease was behind the deaths of 1.976 citizens.
The pandemic has called the National Health System (SNS) into question, showing that it lacks the capacity to act in times of crisis, as we can be read in a survey carried out by the Citizen Observatory for Health (OCS), (https://www.observatoriodesaude.org/covid-19-provou-que-o-governo-nao-esta-preparado-para-lidar-com-crises/).
At its peak, Covid-19 showed that the SNS does not have enough medical staff to act in times of emergency, as well as proving that the available infrastructures do not offer adequate conditions for hospitalizing a large number of patients at the same time.
As a result, health facilities have collapsed as a result of their inability to respond to emergencies. (Read here:https://www.observatoriodesaude.org/covid-19-provou-que-o-governo-nao-esta-preparado-para-lidar-com-crises/).
In order to minimize the impact of Covid-19, the government sought partnerships at the time to raise funds for the purchase of vaccines, the installation of water supply systems and equipment for hand washing in various public places. However, it has not been possible to prevent (although Mozambique has recorded a low number of deaths compared to several countries) the contamination and death of many people from this disease.
According to an OCS survey carried out between June and November 2020, the Covid-19 epidemic has exacerbated the lack of quality in the National Health Service. The study indicates that there are several factors that have contributed to the depreciation of the quality of public health services, as well as the unavailability of various services in the sector, namely: the lack of hospital infrastructure, the deterioration of sanitation conditions, the shortage of medicines, as well as the lack of mobile rooms for screening and clinical monitoring of new epidemiological cases.
On the other hand, the vaccination process against Covid-19 showed how unprepared the Mozambican government was to deal with health emergencies, by designing strategic and concrete plans to deal with the pandemic, taking into account the need to privilege priority groups for vaccination. (https://www.observatoriodesaude.org/unidades-sanitarias-continuam-a-excluir-activistas-de-saude-na-testagem-e-vacinacao-contra-covid-19/).
In recent days, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been warning communities about a possible pandemic that is derived from Covid-19, albeit more deadly. As such, communities must be prepared to deal with possible health problems.
“There is another emerging pathogen with more deadly potential, so the international community must prepare for the possibility of new pandemics”, said recently WHO Director-General Tedro Adhanom Ghebreyesus, adding that “when the next pandemic comes, we must be prepared to respond decisively, collectively and equitably.”
According to the WHO, pandemics are far from the only threat facing humanity, and world leaders need to establish strategies to face new challenges.
“The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on mental health. Many of our own staff, like many health professionals around the world, have experienced severe stress and burnout. The pandemic has presented us with unprecedented challenges”, he added.
In addition, the WHO warns of the threat of another “emerging variant of covid-19”, which would cause “new waves of illness and death.”
“The pandemic has thrown us off course, but it has shown us why the Sustainable Development Goals must remain our north star, and we must pursue them with the same urgency and determination with which we fought the pandemic”, he stressed.
In another development, days after stating that the world is not prepared for the next pandemic, Ghebreyesus warned that the time to start preparing “is now.”
“The time to prepare for the next pandemic is now, not when it arrives”, Ghebreyesus wrote on his social network X (formerly Twitter). The warning comes after ‘Disease X’, which could be the future pandemic, entered the centre of discussion in recent days. The WHO has even warned that it “could cause 20 times more deaths than the coronavirus pandemic.”
The hypothetical “Disease X” was a term coined by the WHO in 2018 to refer to the knowledge of a serious international epidemic caused by an as yet unknown pathogen capable of affecting humans – be it a new strain of the coronavirus, as was the case with SARS-CoV-2, the influenza virus, or a new virus of animal origin.
That same year, it was included on the WHO list of priority diseases. In addition to ‘Disease X’, this list includes Covid-19, Ebola virus, Zika virus, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
In November 2022, the WHO set up a group of over 300 scientists to identify pathogens that could cause future pandemics, with a focus on ‘Disease X’.
Observing with these warnings, the Citizen Observatory for Health, which has witnessed and reported several deaths from Covid-19, calls on the government, through the Ministry of Health, not to ignore the WHO’s warnings and to prepare for the possible pandemic. In other words, the health authorities must work to prevent new pandemics from being more tragic than Covid-19.
According to the OCS, the MISAU must mobilize response mechanisms at all levels, involving other sectors such as the Ministry of Public Works and Water Resources, citizens, among others, to improve hospital infrastructures, environmental sanitation, access to water, the availability of medicines in health facilities, hospitalization conditions, for the proper functioning of hospitals. (OCS)