As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has been more than a health crisis. It has been a social and development crisis and has also led to the most severe economic crisis in a century.
The world is contending with multiple global challenges.
Despite this, we must not lose our momentum in the effort to enhance global health security.
The risk of outbreaks of new and emerging diseases is rising.
My message is this: We must invest now to improve our collective pandemic preparedness, prevention and response for the future. Such cost-effective investments will reduce suffering, save lives and prevent economic loss.
The ongoing discussions in WHO on developing a pandemic agreement are an investment in preparedness. The agreement should reinforce the multilateral response to pandemics.
In the meantime Norway has committed to support the establishment of an interim medical countermeasures platform, as discussed in WHO, G20, G7 and the Johannesburg process.
It has been an honour for Norway to co-chair the ACT-Accelerator together with South Africa. We experienced first-hand the challenges of mobilising resources during a crisis.
In the future, we cannot rely on ad-hoc financing. Funds must be available, based on agreed commitments. The new Pandemic Fund is an important step for preparedness. Surge financing must also be in place when crises hit.
Universal and immediate sharing of pathogen data is a key first step when new outbreaks occur. This must be followed by commitments to ensure equitable access to vaccines and treatment.
(It is also important to remember that universal health coverage is a cornerstone of the response to future pandemics, as has also been discussed in New York this week.)
To conclude: pandemic preparedness only works if there is broad ownership. Low-, middle- and high-income countries; global health agencies; the UN; civil society; private sector and others must all be involved.
We are here to learn from one of the worst crises of our time. To me, the most important lesson is this: only if we work together, on all fronts, will we be prepared to respond when the next crisis strikes.