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December 27, 2023

Reflections on the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness

The International Day of Epidemic Preparedness, celebrated annually on December 27, provides an opportunity for renewed commitment to the vital work of epidemic preparedness. It’s also an ideal moment to reflect on the progress made to date—progress that in 2023 demonstrated the important link between global goals and local advocacy.

Reflections on the UN High-Level Meeting

This year, the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) participated in the United Nations' High-Level Meeting (HLM) on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response on September 20, 2023. The overarching theme, "Making the world safer: Creating and maintaining political momentum and solidarity for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response," underscored the global imperative to fortify our defenses against infectious threats.

Key takeaways from the HLM emphasized the critical need for:

  • Political Momentum: The global community acknowledged that sustained political will is the cornerstone of effective pandemic preparedness. Leaders from around the world committed to fostering an environment where health security is a top priority.
  • Solidarity: The interconnected nature of our world demands a collective response. The HLM highlighted the importance of international collaboration, sharing resources and supporting nations with less capacity to bolster their epidemic preparedness efforts.
  • Inclusive Strategies: The discussions underscored the necessity of inclusive strategies that consider the unique needs and vulnerabilities of diverse communities. Epidemic preparedness must be tailored to address the specific challenges faced by different regions, ensuring that no one is left behind.

Read our statement to the HLM, which emphasized the essential role of civil society in driving political agendas.

Empowering communities in Kano State: A victory for epidemic preparedness

As Yolonda Richardson, our president and CEO, remarked at an event held concurrently with the HLM, “the ideas being discussed at the High-Level Meetings require engagement by civil society in defining action and follow-up at the country level.” Recent advances for epidemic preparedness in Kano State, Nigeria, demonstrate what this can mean in practice.

In the bustling heart of Nigeria, our collaborative efforts with local civil society organizations, government agencies, and advocates have yielded remarkable results. The establishment of an Epidemic Preparedness and Response (EPR) budget line in Kano State is not just a financial milestone; it's a testament to the power of sustained advocacy and community engagement.

Funding commitments from the state government and local authorities amounting to 2.162 billion naira (approximately US $4.76 million) over three years reflect a tangible shift towards prioritizing health security. The sustaining of the budget line is no small feat in the current global economy. The Kano State Health Security Advocacy Team continues to play a crucial role in ensuring the sustainability of these gains, fostering accountability and transparency in the use of allocated funds.

Global success depends on local action

As we stand at the intersection of local wins and global reflections, the message is clear: the world needs robust epidemic preparedness and response mechanisms. Our victories in Kano State are not isolated; they are part of a broader movement towards creating a safer, more resilient world. This International Day of Epidemic Preparedness, let us collectively pledge to advocate for continued investment.

Governments worldwide must prioritize sustained funding for epidemic preparedness, learning from success stories like Kano State. Epidemics know no borders, meaning international corporation is necessary. We must foster collaboration, share knowledge and provide support to nations facing challenges in strengthening their health security infrastructure.

The success in Kano State demonstrates the power of community engagement. Local voices should be amplified, ensuring that strategies are culturally sensitive and inclusive. Let us recommit to the vision of a world where epidemics are met with swift, coordinated and compassionate responses. Through collective action and unwavering dedication, we can build a safer, healthier future for all.