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stern warning

WHO chief warns of pathogens that could be 'even deadlier' than Covid-19

The head of the World Health Organization on Monday warned that future health emergencies could be more severe than the Covid-19 pandemic, and urged the agency's members to start preparing for the next global health crisis, CBS News reported.  

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, issued the warning while speaking at the 76th World Health Assembly meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. The message came just weeks after the organization ended the Covid-19 global emergency.

While the threat of Covid still lingers, Tedros said other imminent threats could be even worse. "The threat of another variant emerging that causes new surges of disease and death remains, and the threat of another pathogen emerging with even deadlier potential remains," he said, warning WHO members not to "kick this can down the road" and urging them to make changes in the immediate future. "When the next pandemic comes knocking — and it will — we must be ready to answer decisively, collectively and equitably," Tedros added.

During the annual assembly, which runs from May 21 to May 30, the organization is set to address a number of global health issues, including "future pandemics, eradicating polio and supporting steps to ease Ukraine's health emergency triggered by Russia's invasion," Reuters explained. The 194 WHO member states are also drafting a global pandemic treaty and will continue negotiations on that front over the next year. Tedros noted the importance of a "commitment from this generation" to the pandemic treaty "because it is this generation that experienced how awful a small virus could be." 

Earlier in the meeting, member countries approved a $6.83 billion budget for the next two years that included a 20% increase in mandatory fees. The new budget "tested national commitments to fixing a WHO funding model which was seen as too small and overly reliant on the vagaries of donors," per Reuters.