Outbreaks of Coronavirus Infectious Disease (COVID-19) are serious threats for all peoples in our world. Responses require the urgent and inclusive involvement of everyone – their families and their communities – as well as the contribution of all sciences, the engagement of civil society and professional organizations and the collective capacities of businesses (as well as employees and customers). Consistent, enlightened leadership from local and national Governments is key to making this happen. This means leadership from the Head of State: it goes beyond, but is crucially dependent on, national Ministries of Health.
As we see the number of outbreaks increasing in different locations around the world, we recognize that any one of us global citizens may be at risk at some time and all of us are likely to be involved in responding – in some way or other. Preparing and responding well, as a determined community, can only happen if we all make a point of getting ready and staying ready for it.
Getting ready requires full collaboration among all involved in local and national governments, and in all other parts of society, in ways that are generous (in terms of what we offer each other) and reinforcing (in terms of acknowledging what we each have to offer).
Readiness means connecting with all people and recognizing that there will be heightened anxiety in multiple settings as a result of the way this outbreak evolves. That anxiety is a reality and we must do all we can to meet people where they really are, engaging with (and never dismissing) their feelings. We must be joined up and work together seamlessly in the face of a global challenge – everything possible must be done to avoid political positioning and point scoring from undermining our ability to work together on readiness, response and recovery.
On 21 February 2020, Dr David Nabarro, Strategic Director of 4SD and Co-Director of the Imperial College Institute of Global Health Innovation at the Imperial College London, was appointed as a World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Special Envoy on COVID-19. In this role, David and five other special envoys are providing strategic advice and high-level political advocacy and engagement in different parts of the world to help WHO coordinate the global response to the epidemic. David joins special envoys Professor Dr Maha El Rabbat, former Minister of Health of Egypt; Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr Mirta Roses, former Director of the WHO Region of the Americas; Dr Shin Young-soo, former Regional Director of the WHO Region of the Western Pacific and Professor Samba Sow, Director-General of the Center for Vaccine Development in Mali in this collective effort.
Please visit: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 for official guidance from the World Health Organisation on the virus. These Narratives are being written and shared by David for those who want more information and to help raise awareness and readiness of all actors.